A group of activists, survivors and families affected by social media abuse have written to Tory leadership candidates to urge the next Prime Minister to prioritize the Online Safety Bill.
Danielle Armitage is one of those who have signed the open letter addressed to the candidates.
She was only 14 years old when they prepared her. while playing an interactive online game for kids.
The man claimed to be 16 years old, however, at the time he was in his 40s.
Ms Armitage, who gave up her anonymity to warn others about what happened to her, told Sky News she initially “arranged to meet me after school”.
“I got in his car and found out he was much older than he said. I just froze from that point on,” he said.
He led Mrs. Armitage into a forest and that’s when the first sexual assault took place.
The situation then “escalated” and subsequent attacks became more violent.
Mrs Armitage said: “He said if I spoke or told anyone he would threaten my family. I felt I had to see him again.”
He added: “By coming together and speaking out, we want the next prime minister to know that what happened to us was preventable.”
“It’s in your hands to protect our children and to make sure that safety measures are in place for children who use the Internet.”
Activists are calling on Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to resist calls to water down planned Internet safety laws and pledge to enforce them without delay.
The proposed legislation had been scheduled to make its way through parliament before the summer recess but, due to conflicting demands in the chamber, has now been delayed until a new prime minister is appointed.
Its goal is to regulate social platforms, to ensure they protect their users from harmful content, with fines and other potential sanctions for those who don’t.
There are concerns in some quarters that the bill will harm freedom of expression and allow censorship, while others believe it does not go far enough to curb the spread of harmful material online.
In their letter, the activists said it is “disturbing” to see some opponents of the bill “rejoicing at this delay and calling for the legislation to be scrapped altogether.”
The coalition is made up of 15 survivors of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, and parents of children who committed suicide after viewing harmful content online.
“We have campaigned for a long time for laws to better protect children online and we are frustrated and disappointed to see the online safety bill being delayed rather than passed in parliament last month,” the letter says.
“With each month that legislation is delayed, the NSPCC says we will see more than 3,500 online child sexual abuse offenses against children. These crimes have increased tenfold in just a decade. content continues to fill kids’ streams.
“This level of harm against children would not be accepted in any other industry, which is why the next prime minister must make the online safety bill a national priority and pave the way for urgent regulation to begin.”
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Experts on all sides of the debate over the bill have raised concerns following changes in government and ministers with different priorities overseeing the legislation.
In their letter, the activists insisted that either Mrs. Truss or Mr. Sunak must go ahead with the bill.
“If you become the next prime minister, we urge you to keep your promise to children and families and deliver a robust online safety bill in full and without delay,” they said.
“Any watering down of the bill would be unacceptable and would break the commitment made to children and families in the Conservative Party’s manifesto to provide the strongest possible protections for children online.”