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November 29, 2023

Oxford study says internet use doesn’t harm mental health, but its research has limits

  • The Oxford Internet Institute has declared that there is no “smoking gun” linking the internet with psychological harm.
  • Professors Andrew Przybylski and Matti Vuorre studied data from two million people aged 15 to 89 in 168 countries.
  • They found that in the last two decades of increasing online connectivity, there have only been minor shifts in global mental health.
  • However, the hard data from platforms is rarely made available to academic researchers, who have campaigned for years for more transparency from platforms.
  • The study reportedly fails to arrive at a strong conclusion, stating “Research on the effects of Internet technologies is stalled because the data most urgently needed are collected and held behind closed doors by technology companies and online platforms. […] Until these data can be transparently analysed for the public good, the potential harmful effects of the Internet and other digital environments will remain unknown.”
  • For more, please visit the Tech Crunch website

European crackdown reveals widespread child sexual abuse material (CSAM) network

  • The operation was prompted by a tip-off from the US Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), leading to the arrest of 31 men across Europe being implicated in the network.
  • The network was primarily operated via the encrypted messaging service Signal.
  • Around 700 individuals of 73 different nationalities were identified by more than 70 investigators.
  • Undercover French gendarmes investigated and uncovered over 200,000 illicit files within the network.
  • Forty child crime groups were investigated, and 29 digital materials were seized.
  • Several suspects have been placed in pre-trial detention, some of which are also being prosecuted for rape of a minor under 15, and corruption of minors.
  • For more, please visit the Yahoo News website.

Cleverly outlines amendment plan to prevent sex offenders changing their names

  • The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has announced that sex offenders will be prevented from changing their names in “certain circumstances”.
  • Mr Cleverly said that the Government intends to amend the Criminal Justice Bill as he reassured MPs that the Government remains committed to taking action.
  • It comes after Sarah Champion raised concerns of a loophole in the law which allows sex offenders to ignore the statutory requirements to notify the police of any name change.
  • The Bill will force criminals to attend their sentencing hearings, which comes after the trial of Lucy Letby.
  • It will also give police powers to enter a property without a court warrant to seize stolen goods such as phones tracked through GPS technology.
  • The Bill also criminalises the sharing of intimate images and allows the transfer of prisoners in and out of England and Wales to serve their sentence abroad.
  • For more, please visit the Independent website.

Stormont law which protects suspected paedophiles criticised by abuse charity 

  • The Christian charity Thirtyone:eight which trains UK churches in how to spot and prevent child abuse has expressed dismay at the new Stormont law which protects suspected paedophiles.
  • One of Stormont’s last acts before collapsing, was to pass legislation which makes it a jailable offence to identify anyone who has been investigated by police over sexual offence allegations but never changed.
  • An individual in this position cannot be named for 25 years even after their death, unless the media or victim goes to court and succeeds in overturning the position.
  • The charity reported: “Survivors are often isolated and unaware of other people who have experienced harm from the same person or persons. Without media coverage they would never be aware. The highest profile case of the last two decades in the UK was that of Jimmy Savile. If this legislation had existed then, it is highly unlikely that survivors would have ever had any form of due process of justice.”
  • The charity has called on the Assembly to urgently consider repealing section 12 of the legislation and to “consider a fair and proportionate response to press reporting.”
  • For more, please visit the Belfast Telegraph website.