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September 6, 2023

Social media firms told to block under-13s or face ‘humongous fines

  • Social media firms must deactivate underaged children’s accounts or risk fines, the Technology Secretary has warned. 
  • Michelle Donelan said she wanted a “zero tolerance” approach to under 13s using Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok. 
  • She stated that the mental health roll and the ramifications for young people under 13 is unimaginable. 
  • Ms Donelan further reported that the Online Safety Bill would “save young people’s lives” by protecting them from harmful content. 
  • She argued that if companies are found by Ofcom (regulator of the Online Safety Bill) to be allowing under 13s on the platforms, they could face criminal liability. 
  • Meta, owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have started introducing new measures such as video age verification tests ahead of the legislation.  
  • However, encrypted app firms, such as WhatsApp have threatened to quit the UK if ministers went ahead with the Bill. 
  • This is because the Bill would require firms to introduce scanning technology for checking child abuse content.  They claim this undermines user privacy. 
  • Ms Donelan stated that upon speaking with parents, they report wanting the “Government to protect their children online” and “want these companies to protect their children online”. 
  • For more, please visit the Telegraph website. 

Rise in young women vaping daily in the UK

  • More young women in the UK are vaping daily, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported. 
  • Statistics amongst women aged 16-24, show an increase of 1.9% in 2021 to 6.7% in 2022 (62,000 to 225,000 across the UK). 
  • Vaping and smoking are illegal for anyone under 18, with children’s doctors calling for a complete ban on popular, brightly coloured, flavoured vapes in particular. 
  • Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) stated “The Government’s response to the consultation on youth vaping due imminently must contain concrete measures to prohibit child-friendly branding, and put products out of sight and out of reach in shops, as well as much stricter regulation, including a tax on the pocket money-priced disposable vapes most popular with children.” 
  • For more, please visit the BBC News website. 

Restraint and isolation: Schools will be required to inform parents

  • According to the new statutory guidance published by the Department of Education (DE), all schools will have a legal duty to tell parents if their child has been restrained or put in isolation. 
  • According to the guidance, the school must keep a detailed record of any incident, and places legal duty on schools to inform parents/carers if a child has been restrained or secluded. 
  • The new guidance defines seclusion as “placing a child or young person involuntarily in any environment in which they are alone and prevented from leaving”. 
  • It continues stating that seclusion must “never be used in educational settings in Northern Ireland unless in a crisis situation where it is necessary for the prevention of serious physical harm to individuals”. 
  • Similar recent guidance from the Department of Health (DoH) said children should never be shut in a room alone or prevented from leaving. 
  • The DE guidance is now out for consultation until the 3rd of November 2023. 
  • For more, please visit the BBC News website. 

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