UK Online Safety Act – a huge campaign win!
After six years of campaigning, including working alongside EE Hope United and many months in coalition with expert organisations and academics (the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), Refuge, Carnegie, NSPCC, 5Rights and Profs. Clare McGlynn and Lorna Woods) and receiving over 100,000 signatures on our joint petition with EVAW, we finally saw the UK Government include women and girls in the Online Safety Act!
You can check out our Founder and CEO Seyi Akiwowo’s very elated response here.
The Act will require Ofcom to publish guidance for tech companies on reducing the risk of harm to women and girls using their platforms. This a key milestone moment for Glitch as we have been campaigning for this ever since our inception.
Glitch, EVAW and expert organisations had been advocating for a Violence Against Women and Girls Code of Practice which holds tech companies accountable for addressing and preventing abuse. Whilst the government offered an alternative guidance, rather than a Code, which doesn’t go as far as we would like, the explicit mention of online harms faced by women and girls in the law is still a HUGE step in the right direction.
As the Online Safety Act has now passed, Glitch will engage in the process of its implementation, to ensure that the Online Safety Act fully protects women and girls from online abuse.
And you can read our calls for political parties to include tech accountability in their manifestos here.
Manifesto on Tech Accountability for Online Gender-Based Violence
We all want to find joy and benefit from emerging technology in the online space and for it to be a tool for – and not a weapon against – our democracy.
But tech corporations are putting profit over people. Even with new regulations in place, these companies are allowing online gender-based violence and racist abuse to be posted and targeted at women and girls on their platforms.
Together, we can hold tech corporation CEOs accountable. Political parties must commit to:
- The strong implementation of the Online Safety Act for all women and girls
- A public health approach to ending online gender based violence, with increased media literacy and enhanced digital citizenship across the UK; and
- A ‘tech tax’ that ringfences the revenue already collected from Big Tech and puts it towards preventative online gender-based violence interventions.
- AI regulation that includes risk assessments for how AI can exacerbate racism and sexism through enabling abuse, such as deepfakes and misinformation, and encoding bias in databases, such as those used for policing or content moderation.
Together, we can change the online space and ensure online platforms are created by Big Tech for us, not just themselves.
Glitch x EE Hope United: Online Safety Bill Campaign
Building on previous work with BT Sport, Glitch worked with BT and EE Hope United to highlight online abuse and calling for women and girls to be included in the Online Safety Bill.
AND WE WON!
A recent YouGov survey commissioned by EE revealed that 53% of the UK public don’t feel the internet is a safe space for women, and 62% of the UK believe that not enough is being done to tackle online and offline misogyny.
- Women of colour are 34% more likely to be mentioned in abusive tweets than white women
- 77% of women change their behaviour after receiving online abuse. Why should they have to?
- 65% of women who report abuse to internet companies don’t feel heard
Throughout this campaign, we brought attention to the fact that the bill was 262 pages and did not mention women and girls once, despite the disproportionate levels of online gender-based violence. As the Online Safety Bill progressed through the House of Lords, we called for Peers in the House of Lords to support amendments to change the bill to strengthen it for women and girls We raised awareness of the issue in newpapers and on street billboards and called on digital citizens to tweet the House of Lords to #MakieItSafer.
To find out more, visit the Hope United website.
Glitch x BT Sport: Draw The Line
In this major multi-platform campaign, we upskilled the BT, EE & BT Sport teams to become good digital citizens. The Glitch team helped to develop an algorithmic abuse tool to track levels of abuse on Twitter, as well as shape new research – which sadly confirms how increasingly unsafe our online spaces are.
Read more here.
Data from YouGov survey of 4,000 people.
The Tech Tax
Since April 2020, the Government imposed a new Digital Services Tax of 2% on the revenues of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users. These include tech giants like Meta, Google and Amazon.
According to the Office for National Statistics, this ‘tech tax’ raised £29 million in the first month of operation alone. This is in line with the “polluter pays” principles, which means because these companies are enabling and creating these harms to society, they should pay to help rectify and stop the damage, allowing us to establish online standards which are fair, safe and necessary to the growing digital economy.
By ring-fencing at least 10% of this new tax annually for ending online abuse against women and girls, the Government can commit at least £35 million to further establishing online standards which are fair and necessary to the growing digital economy.
To efficiently and effectively combat online abuse and violence against women and girls, we recommend this 10% should be pledged to civil society organisations to help fund their vital work to end online abuse, such as training on digital citizenship and online safety.
Black Lives Matter Online Too
Studies show that race is the largest strand of online hate, with Black people experiencing more of it than other groups; for those who are politically active too, the likelihood of receiving online abuse is even greater. In response to the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and to help change this, we offered free digital self-care and digital self-defence training for Black Lives Matter activists, who continue to use their voices to publicly speak out against racial injustice. We also launched a petition in June 2020 calling for social media platforms to provide better controls over violent and triggering content, which can lead to PTSD. To learn more, click here.
The Ripple Effect Report
When COVID-19 first hit, our gut told us that more time spent at home and on our digital devices would lead to an increase in online abuse. To investigate this, we partnered with the End The Violence Against Women Coalition – a leading group of specialist women’s support services – and carried out some in-depth research. The result is ‘The Ripple Effect’: a report that reveals the gendered impact of COVID-19. We discovered that nearly half of women and non-binary people reported experiencing online abuse since the beginning of the pandemic, and that much of this abuse took place on the main social media platforms – despite tech companies’ claims about making their apps safer. To see our findings in full, download a free copy of the report here.
Glitch’s mission is to end online abuse by championing digital citizenship. Digital citizenship is about individuals engaging positively, responsibly, critically and competently in all digital spaces. We believe that all individuals have a right to safely and freely engage in online spaces without discrimination. Digital citizenship is respecting and championing the human rights of all individuals online, and for us this encompasses three key elements:
- Individual responsibilities
- Social responsibilities
- Institutional responsibilities
Our four pillars of digital citizenship are: Digital Self-Defence, Digital Self-Care, Online Active Bystander and Tech Accountability.
As part of our work to champion Digital Citizenship, we developed and delivered our pilot Digital Citizenship Workshop to over 3,500 young people across the UK and Europe during 2018. These workshops are all about helping young people lead their best, most positive, responsible and engaging online lives.
Key findings from our pilot workshops show that from our one hour intervention alone, 86% of young people surveyed said they would behave differently online as a result of the information they learned during our workshop. Young people also said they felt an increased sense of self-awareness and responsibility for how their behaviour could impact others. After attending our workshop they have an increased understanding of positive online behaviours and know how to flag and report inappropriate content.
Read more about the impact of our Digital Citizenship Workshops here.