To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Answer of 26 March 2021 to Question 169852, on Sexual Offences, who is responsible for safeguarding people who may be being exploited as a result of receiving sexually explicit emails; and what investigations have been undertaken to date.
20 May 2021
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will assess and forward information it receives through its complaints process to other organisations who may have an interest or a responsibility. This information is shared according to the specific nature of the issue raised with the ICO and may include the Police. We would expect all agencies to share information with the relevant bodies and take appropriate action to ensure the safeguarding of individuals where there is cause for concern. The ICO does not publish information on enforcement action which they have taken specifically against email spam, including those emails which are sexually explicit. Further information on their enforcement activity relating to broader marketing is available here: https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/enforcement/?facet_type=&facet_sector=Marketing&facet_date=&date_from=&date_to=
We know that women are disproportionately abused online, which impedes their rights to participate in society. We are introducing the Online Safety Bill which will give effect to the regulatory framework outlined in the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper and will be ready this year. The Bill will set out a new duty of care on companies to keep their users safe online; including that all companies in scope must tackle illegal content on their platforms and be clear on what legal but harmful content accessed by adults is acceptable on their platform.
Whilst sexually explicit email is not in scope of this legislation, women will be better protected by a range of online abuse, and should expect to receive an appropriate response from a platform. This could include removal of harmful content, sanctions against offending users, or changing processes and policies to better protect users. The new regulatory framework will be overseen and enforced by an independent regulator.