Keeping people safe online: the VCSE sector’s message to Government

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15 November, 2017
Voscur wants your views on how VCSE organisations can provide the best support to their service users (and their staff) around internet safety - and how the Government can change policy to support this. Take the survey now.
You can read Voscur's digest of the Government's Internet Safety Strategy here.


What is changing?
The Internet is changing our society at an incredible rate. We are seeing huge shifts in the way we communicate, share information, connect with people and relate to each other - thanks to our instant, globe-spanning connectivity. 
However, with these incredible technological leaps, we must recognise the emergence of new problems that have arisen: it is easier to bully, spread hateful ideas, and access children and vulnerable people in order to abuse them. Children and young people are being exposed to inappropriate and damaging content, and the spread of misinformation is fuelling a rise in hate crime.
Recognising this, the Government is proposing huge changes to the way it regulates Internet usage and the ways in which social media and other online platforms engage with their users.
The proposals
The Government has released a Green Paper – a consultation on its Internet safety proposals – to gather views on how best to protect people online, and ensure online platforms take responsibility for people’s safety. Voscur is bringing together the ideas of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in order to present a strong Bristol response to this consultation. In doing so, we hope to ensure that any changes in legislation are made with the needs of the sector – and its beneficiaries – in mind. 
Training and funding for the sector around Internet safety
One of the proposals put forward in the Green Paper is to implement a ‘social media levy’ – a kind of tax on social media companies that would be centrally administered. The Government has suggested that this levy would be “an effective way for industry to provide a contribution to tackling online harms [by] support[ing] greater public awareness of online safety and enabl[ing] preventative measures to counter Internet harms”.
Voscur wants to make a case to the Government for some of the levy funds to be made available to the VCSE sector. These could be used to:
1. Enable organisations that work to improve people’s digital literacy to secure (more) funding for this work.
2. Add capacity to the VCSE sector by training organisations to (better) help people, including children and young people, stay safe online.
Regardless of whether funding could be drawn down from a social media levy, Voscur wants to understand the training needs of Bristol’s VCSE sector, in terms of internet safety and its ability to support people to be safer online.
Submitting a sector-wide response - deadline Thursday, 30 November 2017
In order to understand these needs, we have devised a quick (maximum 10 minutes) questionnaire to gather the views of VCSE organisations about online safety. Voscur will collate the responses into a report, which we will submit to the Government. 
Therefore, we would appreciate it if your organisation could respond to Voscur’s questionnaire in order to strengthen our collective voice. Please do share and encourage as many people to participate as possible.
If you also wish to participate in the consultation as an individual you can read the Green Paper and take the longer Government survey here.
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