Girling slams EU response to internet safety concerns

23-Aug-2013 @ 15:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

South West and Gibraltar MEP Julie Girling has heavily criticised the response of the European Commission following a Parliamentary Question she tabled in July regarding the controversial website Ask.fm.

Mrs Girling, who herself has recently received online abuse and trolling, tabled the question following talks with the UK’s Safer Internet Centre. The question mentions the Latvian based site which has been widely criticised for its role in the suicides of a number of teenagers. Girling asked the European Commission if they were aware of such websites operating and if they had any plans to take any pan-European action against websites of this nature.

Commenting on their response to her question, Mrs Girling said; “The Commission can be infuriating, this is a non-response. This is waffle from the Commission, they don’t deal with the questions I raise and don’t address the safety concerns associated with using such websites. They make no acknowledgement that sites like Ask.fm are operating from within the EU nor do they offer any plan of action to combat websites of this nature. They do however refer to the Safer Internet Centre which is currently under threat of cuts to its European funding.


This is a sorry state of affairs. Online and digital technology plays an increasing role in the lives of our young people. The Commission is burying its head in the sand. Websites like Ask.fm is having a negstive impact on the lives of some of its users yet the European Commission is simply standing by and doing nothing.


I am pleased that, following pressure from the family of Hannah Smith and others, Ask.fm have introduced new moderation and safety measures however, I fear it won’t be too long before there is a new social media platform available and we’ll be back here again.”

Since submitting the Parliamentary question regarding Ask.fm, the website has changed its safety features with the intention of preventing further online abuse.

The UK Safer Internet Centre responded to these changes stating; "We are delighted by the changes proposed by Ask.FM today. Introducing additional moderation and safety staff, and making the reporting function more accessible will go a long way to reducing cyber-bullying on the site. We are also pleased to see an increased visibility of the Anonymous “opt out” option. We strongly advise users, especially children, to switch off anonymous questions, and to report any abuse they see on the site, whether targeting them, or other users. We will continue to offer advice to Ask.FM about their processes, to ensure users have a positive and safe experience."

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