Tackling online abuse – Inclusion London’s Evidence to the Petition’s Committee

Our urgent recommendations to Government on tackling online abuse

In 2018, the Petitions Committee held an inquiry into online abuse and the experiences of disabled people. Despite overwhelming evidence of the scale of the issue, for disabled people and for many other people on the internet, there has been little progress in making the internet a safer place to be.

In June 2020 the Committee launched a new inquiry into tackling online abuse, to examine what progress has been made since 2018 and to press the Government on the action it needs to take.

The Committee considered:

  • The scale and impact of online abuse on internet users, including disabled people, the LGBT+ community and other minority groups
  • Government proposals to tackle the issue, including the Online Harms White Paper
  • Legal and technological solutions to take action against people who commit online abuse

Inclusion London submitted evidence to the committee in August and you can read a summary of our recommendations and download the full report below.

Key points

  • Online abuse is part of the wider experience of abuse and discrimination that Disabled people experience on a daily basis.
  • There are links between online abuse and face to face harassment and violence.
  • Online abuse and physical threats cause distress but also inhibit Disabled people’s daily lives, with individuals too fearful go online or to leave their houses alone.
  • Social media companies are too slow to identify and remove abusive material with weak UK legislation. 
  • Current hate crime law is inadequate to Disabled people and urgently needs to be changed.
  • Politicians and the media need to acknowledge the role they have played in the increase in abuse since 2010 and take action to remedy this. 
  • Accessible support for Disabled victims of hate crime is not available in all areas of the country, funding needs to be provided.

Summary of Recommendations

  • To urgently review existing hate crime legislation with a view to introducing amendments to ensure parity across all protected characteristics by creating new “aggravated” and “stirring up” offences for hatred on grounds of disability.
  • To ensure the proposed regulatory bodies have the power to enforce penalties on social media companies who fail to:
    • remove harmful online material within 24 hours of being notified
    • proactively search and remove posts with harmful content
  • For Government to implement a broad mass media campaign in consultation with Disabled People’s Organisations promoting disabled people, particularly those who receive social security payments and are unable to work, as equal citizens and rights holders.
  • To actively and accessibly seek the views of Disabled people to inform the further development of measures to tackle online abuse.
  • For social media companies to fund DDPO hate crime services, and to signpost to them as one of the forms of support on their platforms.

Inclusion London’s full report

You can download Inclusion London’s full report below:

Inclusion London’s Evidence to the Petition’s Committee Inquiry into Tackling Online Abuse