Opinion 19-Mar-2020

SalamWeb Has Been Protecting Youngsters Long Before Current Legal Projects

Grigory-Matyunin
Grigory Matyunin
Columnist
Portrait of two cheerful muslim family and their children having fun together on the swing at the park
Huzurlu bir toplumun temeli, huzurlu bir aileden geçer. © Paulus Rusyanto | Dreamstime.com

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has put forward an Age Appropriate Design Code which introduces 15 standards that should be met by online services to protect children and their privacy. The code now awaits parliamentary approval and is expected to be come into force by autumn 2021, imposing large fines for non-compliance.

The code concerns services which children are likely to use ranging from educational websites to social media and online games. It stipulates that digital services should provide children automatically with a ‘baseline’ of data protection, setting privacy settings to high and switching off certain processes such as those which allow the child’s physical location to be identified.

In line with Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the code demands that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration. It will require online services to protect the physical, psychological and emotional development of children, keeping them safe from risks of exploitation, including sexual exploitation and abuse, while simultaneously enabling them to learn and form their own opinions.

The code is partially the result of the suicide of Molly Russell, a fourteen-year-old who took her own life in 2017. Her family had found a range of graphic posts relating to self-harm on her Instagram account and believe her social media usage was one of the factors which resulted in her death. Ian Russell, her father, has welcomed the changes.

Speaking on behalf of the NSPCC, Andy Burrows has stated, ‘For the first time, tech firms will be legally required to assess their sites for sexual abuse risks, and can no longer serve up harmful self-harm and pro-suicide content.’

Yet while this legislative development is unprecedented and long overdue, SalamWeb can pride itself in offering Muslims an equally secure online ecosystem long before this code was even published, let alone ratified.

SalamWeb’s three-layered system filters out haram content that is capable of inflicting serious psychological damage upon children. Rather than encouraging Muslims to avoid the Internet altogether, SalamWeb embraces the Islamic concept of ijma’ and promotes enlightened debate.

Central to this is the creation of a suitable online environment, free from all the harmful content which permeates the Internet while at the same time encouraging the pursuit of knowledge and the formation of informed opinions.

While the current efforts to protect children in the online world through legislation are laudable, they are still at least a year away from ratification. Moreover, it is unlikely that they will adequately meet the needs of Muslim families since children will probably be able to access spiritually-damaging content which violates the Islamic faith.

SalamWeb meets the needs of Muslim Internet users more closely, protecting young minds from harm while encouraging them to develop intellectually and spiritually.

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