Telcos face being regulated by the government if they fail to block websites offering advice on suicide, the health minister Norman Lamb has warned. He said that one of the areas of concern was the lack of awareness about websites offering guidance on suicide.
This week, the government has launched a campaign in England to help prevent people from committing suicide, especially those considered to be in at-risk groups. The Department of Health said that it wanted to work:
with the media, and with the internet industry through members of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to help parents ensure their children are not accessing harmful suicide-related websites, and to increase the availability and take-up of effective parental controls to reduce access to harmful websites.
The Sunday Times reported that Lamb had bluntly noted ahead of today’s strategy that regulation would follow if internet service providers did not step in to offer protection. He said:
These horrific suicide websites are just one example of the dangerous and disturbing online content which, without proper controls, our children can access almost at any time.
The Register contacted broadband industry lobby group ISPA, which said:
A previous government review found that the law on encouraging suicide was fit for purpose for the digital age. ISPs will remove content they host that is illegal once notified, but are not always best placed to judge on whether content is illegal or not.