"Today’s harrowing verdict in the Molly Russell case has once again highlighted the urgent need for policy makers to take emerging technologies that pose a serious safety risk to individuals, most notably children, seriously. It is vital legislation within the new Online Safety Bill fully protects children from online harms, particularly unregulated content. It currently does not go far enough and this is dangerous.
“We’ve already had a delay in legislation, now it seems aspects of the Bill relating to children will remain untouched. The rapid speed in which online platforms evolve, such as experiential environments accessed via virtual and augmented reality, mean new threats emerge daily. There is currently no provision within the Bill for safeguarding online users in ‘live’ scenarios where they can fully interact with strangers.
“Whether it is social media, a virtual reality headset or a metaverse gaming platform, politicians must avoid trivialising or feeling mystified by new technology platforms. Yes, there are complex factors to consider, like protecting our existing rights to freedom of expression, but that doesn't mean we can delay addressing underlying problems. We must fully safeguard the metaverse, and protect individuals online.”