BCS warns against relying on technology to deliver online safety

31/08/2023 | BCS

A new paper from the BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT's Fellows Technical Advisory Group (F-TAG), has called for a more comprehensive approach to protecting users online than is currently contained in the Online Safety Bill. The paper recommends that policymakers thoroughly analyse the flaws of emerging technology solutions before relying on them for child protection. The paper also stresses the importance of education, awareness, and privacy concerns, and warns against compromising encryption, as it is not possible without introducing systemic risks and 'bugging' millions of users' phones. 

The paper makes several recommendations for the bill, including addressing not only technical intervention but also education, training, and public awareness programmes. Furthermore, the paper highlights the unreliability of detecting Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and the inadequacy of age-verification proposals to prevent illegal access to material. Finally, the paper warns that legislation undermining encryption will likely lead to a decline in the UK's international reputation on data security, as demonstrated by public statements from messaging apps WhatsApp and Signal.

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Online harms, online safety bill, online safety act, OSA

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