COMMONS

Online abuse investigation launched following petition started by Katie Price

24 January 2018

The Petitions Committee is investigating online abuse and the experiences of disabled people after a petition started by Katie Price achieved more than 220,000 signatures.

The petition calls for online abuse to be a specific criminal offence and for a register of offenders to be created. The petition talks about the abuse Katie Price and her family has suffered, especially her disabled son.  

The Committee’s aim is to build on the work already done in Parliament on the issue of online abuse by drawing out the specific concerns of disabled people and their families.

Evidence session

To help the Committee with its investigation, it will hear from Katie Price about how online abuse has affected her family. It will then hear from disabled people, charities and other experts about what needs to change. 

Katie Price will give oral evidence to the Committee on Tuesday 6 February at 2.30pm in Parliament, followed by representatives from disability charities and advocacy groups at 3pm. 

The session will be public. This means it will be broadcast live and transcribed afterwards. 

You will be able to watch the session live online:

More evidence sessions with other experts will be announced later on. 

Chair's comment

Chair of the Committee, Helen Jones MP said:  

"Katie Price’s petition, which has been signed by more than 220,000 people, has brought to Parliament an issue that has not been widely discussed – how online abuse affects people with disabilities and their families.

The Government and Parliament are looking at how to tackle online abuse, and we’d like to ensure that the particular issues faced by disabled people are at the heart of those discussions. 

We’ll be speaking to disabled people and other experts about what needs to change.

We’ve also invited Katie Price and her son Harvey to Parliament to tell us about how online abuse has affected their family."

What will happen as a result?

After the Committee has heard from different people, it will decide if it wants to make recommendations to the Government to take action. If it does, this is usually done in an official Committee report. 

After the Committee’s investigation, it will schedule a debate in Parliament on this petition. All of its work, including all of the evidence it heard, will be used to inform the debate. 

Get involved: 

Scope of the investigation

The Committee is looking into the following questions: 

  • What’s the impact of online abuse, especially on people with disabilities?
  • Who’s responsible for protecting people from online abuse? Are technology companies doing enough?
  • How well does the current law protect disabled people from online abuse? Does the law need to be changed?  
  • How should we define online abuse? Where’s the line between legitimate freedom of expression, behaviour that is against the terms and conditions of social media sites, and abuse that should be against the law? 
  • What support is there for victims of online abuse?

The Committee will hear from people with disabilities and other experts in the field. The Committee will then look at the evidence it’s received, and decide what recommendations to make to the Government. That could include recommendations for changes to the law. 

MPs will debate the petition and any recommendations later in the year. The Government will have to respond. 

You can view the petition online here: 

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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