Researchers call for social media data access | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Researchers and digital rights groups are calling upon lawmakers to enshrine their ability to access social media data for independent research to monitor harmful content in the Online Safety Bill.

Currently the bill, which is being deliberated on in the House of Lords, would provide Ofcom with two years to set up regulations for how independent researchers could obtain data from regulated services.

Academics and civil charities for digital rights and child safety are calling for these frameworks to be addressed now, as to bring forward the timeline to allow for continuous independent research into the topic of online safety.

Charities, including the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), the NSPCC, and the Molly Rose Foundation, signed an open letter urging the House of Lords to ensure social media platforms are more ‘transparent,’ as reported by The Guardian.

“We ask the government to support the data access amendments, supporting the researchers, academics and experts who work in real-time to empower and inform the British public about the online harms that affect their lives,” said the letter, as reported by The Guardian.

The organisations are calling for the adoption of Conservative Lord James Bethell’s amendement, which would call for the establishment of a code of practice for social media platforms to follow, allowing independent researchers to access data while maintaining user privacy.

The code of practice, which would be created by Ofcom, would decide what type of harms institutions could research, and have to meet privacy and independence standards set by Ofcom in order to access the data.

Charities are concerned that without this amendment, the impacts of social media will go unstudied, as would the affect of the Online Safety Bill once implemented.

The House of Lords is set to debate the new amendments this Thursday, after the bill already faced several changes under four different Prime Ministers since its introduction.

Another amendment to be debated includes more stringent age verification methods to prevent children from accessing and viewing pornographic material.


This has recently been met with pushback from Wikipedia, the free, publicly monitored online encyclopaedia, which says it will refuse to put age restrictions on any of its content.

The bill has faced further pushback from Big Tech as it may impede the encryption of messages by requiring automatic scanning before messages are fully encrypted. Messaging applications such as Signal and WhatsApp are threatening to leave the UK market if the bill proceeds with this current legislation.


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National Cyber Security