Campaigners join architects of Online Safety Act in Parliament to celebrate ground-breaking new laws for children

Abuse survivors and young people join NSPCC Chief Executive and head of Ofcom to mark momentous achievement

Young people, bereaved families and abuse survivors today celebrated the Online Safety Act becoming law at our reception in Parliament.

Campaigners who have worked tirelessly for new laws that will protect children online joined politicians, civil society and regulators to welcome the legislation.

After years of campaigning, legislation that will put a legal duty on tech companies to protect children from sexual abuse and harmful material on social media sites, gaming apps and messaging services was given Royal Assent on Thursday.

Young people who campaigned for the bill and a mum whose daughter was sexually abused on social media, spoke at the event. They joined our Chief Executive Sir Peter Wanless and Ofcom Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes who will be responsible for the Act’s implementation.

The event was chaired by Sajid Javid MP who was Home Secretary when regulation to help protect children online was first promised by the Government in 2018, following the launch of our Wild West Web campaign.

At the reception there was a clear focus on ensuring young people’s voices and experiences are central to the implementation of the Online Safety Act, so it results in meaningful change for children as soon as possible.

Lynn*, whose daughter Emily* was sexually abused on Facebook and Snapchat when she was 13, has campaigned with us for online safety laws for over five years.

Speaking at the reception, Lynn* said: “Five years ago, I stood before many of you, and told the story of our daughter, Emily*. The story of how she was groomed via social media and sexually assaulted by a 24-year-old man who had posed as a 16-year-old boy. I asked the Government to change the law so that social media and tech companies must take responsibility for the safety of users on their platforms, and to protect our children and vulnerable people.

“Today, I speak to you as a grandparent of a four-year-old little girl. The aunt of nieces and nephews. A mother of a child that was targeted and seriously harmed via social media. And I speak to you as someone who strongly welcomes the Online Safety Act.”

The event came as Ofcom prepares to set out the rules which tech companies will have to follow to tackle child sexual abuse and protect children from harmful material.

The codes of practice will be consulted on before being implemented, but those at the event were united in their expectation that tech companies should not wait to begin putting concrete measures in place to make their sites safe by design for children.

Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: “It was an honour to bring together so many people from different walks of life whose campaigning and dedication has helped make the Online Safety Act possible.

“I want to particularly thank everyone who has been impacted by online abuse and unimaginable harm who have campaigned selflessly to help protect others.

“While we rightly celebrated today, it was also a catalyst towards working together to ensure the legislation results in the protections online children desperately need.

“We look forward to seeing the landmark Act implemented with bold ambition to ensure there is a rigorous focus on children as regulation comes into force.”

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom's Chief Executive, said: “We’re grateful for all the hard work that went into getting these new laws onto the statute books. It means we now have regulation that will make a real difference in creating a safer life online for people – particularly children – in the UK. This is a big job, and we’re ready, but we won’t be doing it alone.

"Young people’s voices have shaped the foundations, and now we want to hear from them again to make sure we get the technical detail right. Next week, we’ll be consulting on the specific measures that tech firms can take to protect their users from illegal harms online, including child sexual abuse and grooming, and pro-suicide content.”

Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “I am immensely proud of the work that has gone into the Online Safety Act from its very inception to it becoming law.

“At the heart of this Act is the protection of children. I would like to thank the campaigners, parliamentarians, survivors of abuse and charities including the NSPCC, that have worked tirelessly, not only to get this Act over the finishing line, but to ensure that it will make the UK the safest place to be online in the world.”

The reception was attended by members of the Bereaved Families for Online Safety who were integral in achieving stronger protection for children in the legislation.

A large number of volunteers with lived experience of abuse who have campaigned with the NSPCC for robust legislation also joined the reception.

The NSPCC set up an installation outside the Houses of Parliament thanking the over 147,000 campaigners who backed the legislation. The charity has released a video with young people welcoming the Online Safety Act.


*All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child and/or adult involved

How the Online Safety Bill became law

  • 2014 We launch a campaign calling for a new offence to make online grooming a crime, by making it illegal for an adult to send a child a sexual message. 50,000 people sign our petition
  • 2015 The Government includes the offence in the Sexual Offences Act 2015, but it takes two more years of sustained campaigning before they bring the offence into force so police can take action and arrest offenders
  • April 2017 Sexual Communication with a Child becomes an offence
  • April 2017 We first call on Government to bring in statutory regulation of social networks
  • Dec 2017 We call for tech companies to have a legal duty of care to keep children safe
  • April 2018 Launch of our Wild West Web campaign
  • June 2018 Following our campaign, then Culture Secretary Matt Hancock commits to legislate to protect children
  • Feb 2019 Taming the Wild West Web is published outlining a plan for regulation
  • April 2019 Government publishes the Online Harms White Paper
  • January 2020 Online Harms paving bill, prepared by the Carnegie Trust and introduced by Lord McNally, is selected for its first reading in the Lords
  • February 2020 Government publishes initial consultation to the Online Harms White Paper, announcing Ofcom as the likely watchdog
  • September 2020 We set out six tests for the Online Harms Bill in its Regulatory Framework
  • December 2020 Government publishes its Online Harms White Paper consultation response
  • March 2021 Our analysis of the consultation response finds significant improvement is needed in a third of areas of proposed legislation if the Online Safety Bill is to extensively protect children from avoidable harm and abuse
  • May 2021 Government publishes draft Online Safety Bill
  • September 2021 Parliamentary scrutiny begins, and the we publish Duty to Protect - an assessment of the draft Online Safety Bill against our six tests for protecting children
  • October 2021 Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen gives evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill
  • December 2021 The joint committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill calls for a number of changes to the legislation to better prevent child abuse
  • January 2022 DCMS Committee back our call for the Online Safety Bill to put a legal duty on tech firms to disrupt the way offenders game social media design features to organise around material that facilitates abuse
  • January 2022 The Petitions Committee also calls for the Online Safety Bill to be strengthened
  • March 2022 We urge Government to listen to the overwhelming consensus of Parliamentarians, civil society and the UK public to close significant gaps in the way Online Safety Bill responds to grooming
  • March 2022 The Government publishes the Online Safety Bill
  • April 2022 Online Safety Bill has its Second Reading and we publish our Time to Act report which sets out where the Bill can be improved to become a world-leading response to the online child abuse threat
  • May 2022 Online Safety Bill Committee Stage begins
  • July 2022 Online Safety Bill Report Stage debates
  • Summer 2022 Online Safety Bill delayed by two changes to Prime Minister
  • September 2022 Inquest into the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell finds social media contributed to her death
  • December 2022 Online Safety Bill returns to Parliament
  • December 2022 Bereaved Families for Online Safety formed to campaign for strong protections for children and families through the Online Safety Bill
  • January 2023 Conservative MP rebellion backs our amendment that forces Government to commit to holding senior tech managers liable for harm to children
  • January 2023 Online Safety Bill begins its journey through the House of Lords
  • Spring 2023 Government amendments strengthen protections for children following campaigning by civil society, including NSPCC and Bereaved Families for Online Safety
  • September 2023 Online Safety Bill due its Third Reading in the House of Lords and to return to Parliament for final passage.
  • September 2023 Online Safety Bill finished its passage through Parliament
  • October 2023 Online Safety Act given Royal Assent and becomes law