The government has issued new guidance to help tech companies better protect online users after research shows that smaller companies are less confident of the measures needed.
The guidance, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), will help businesses find the information they need to build safe products. The guidance aims to minimise the risk of online harm occurring and advises companies about providing an age-appropriate experience for children.
The guidance recommends tools such as age assurance, age verification methods and encouraging adults to set services’ safety measures to high by default so they can’t be changed by children. They also suggest firms make it easier for users to report harmful content or behaviour, and for companies to block high-risk search terms, for example around illegal terrorist content.
The guidance is targeted at companies whose online platforms are used by children, such as social media or gaming platforms. It includes advice on how to protect children’s personal data, address abuse and encourage positive behaviour online, and how to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse. It also recommends applying and actively enforcing minimum age limits and reporting child sexual exploitation and abuse.
The new guidance will also help bosses implement safety measures for children users ahead of the government’s forthcoming Online Safety Bill. Under the bill tech firms will be required to assess the risks posed to people using their services and provide safer environments for users.
Firms will also be able to use technologies being developed by the UK’s safety tech sector, which is creating new solutions to the challenges of keeping people safe online.
Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage said:
‘We’re helping businesses get their safety standards up to scratch before our new online harms laws are introduced and also making sure they are protecting children and users right now.
‘We want businesses of all sizes to step up to a gold standard of safety online and this advice will help them to do so.’