National badger charity supports bringing violence towards animals into the scope of the Bill as incidents surge.
Badger Trust has been one of the leading campaigners to include animal cruelty in the bill, alongside coalition partners in the AfA Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition and the Alliance to Counter Crime Online. Many of the charity’s supporters joined other campaigners in writing to MPs and members of the House of Lords to urge this change – and this week, the government has introduced animal cruelty into the scope of the bill.
The introduction means that animal cruelty will now become a priority offence, which means that it joins the most serious illegal content, including terrorist and child abuse, as content social media platforms must work to prevent.
This amendment to the Bill is a great result for animals and platform users – especially young people – as social media companies will now be responsible for proactively preventing content that causes unnecessary suffering to animals from reaching users. Failure to comply could, for the first time, lead to fines of £18m, or 10% of a tech company’s total global revenue.
Badgers are among the most widely featured native animals in horrific online content that shows animal cruelty and abuse. Badger-baiting gangs, in particular, use social media to flaunt the violence they inflict on badgers and dogs. They also use social media to arrange criminal activity in many cases. The content filmed is then exposed to many young people, including children, which is traumatising and could help normalise violence towards animals among vulnerable groups.
Badger Trust is pleased the government is now supporting action against this growing problem by bringing violence towards animals into the scope of the Online Safety Bill.
Peter Hambly, Executive Director of Badger Trust, commented:
“We must do everything we can to stop criminals from sharing animal cruelty online. This cyber-enabled wildlife crime – crimes against wild animals facilitated by the internet – encourages crimes against animals and is on the rise as online technologies become more widespread.
The government’s inclusion of animal cruelty in the bill is a great step forward and a tribute to everyone who campaigned for this change. We hope that the Online Safety Bill will now put in place the framework to help protect animals from this violence and children from being exposed to it.”
The Online Safety Bill is expected to receive royal assent later this month.