Online safety laws need tightening to protect children on streaming sites – MP

The Government should tighten proposed internet safety reforms to prevent streaming sites such as Spotify being open to abuse by child groomers, MPs have heard.

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne raised the issue in the House of Commons, where he claimed groomers have created fake accounts and playlists on the platform.

He called on the Government to consider via the Online Safety Bill how it can prevent Spotify and other streaming sites from being abused by groomers.

Mr Gwynne’s comments follow reports in the Manchester Evening News (MEN) that an 11-year-old girl uploaded explicit pictures of herself to Spotify after being groomed by a secret community on the platform and before her account was deleted.

The MP for Denton and Reddish told the Commons: “Can we have an urgent statement from either the Home Secretary or the Culture Secretary about the shifting focus of online harms to platforms that possibly fall outside the scope of the Bill before Parliament?

“I’ve been contacted by parents of an 11-year-old girl… who was effectively groomed on the Spotify platform whereby fake accounts and playlists are being created by groomers and then communicating with children to encourage them to send photographs, explicit photographs, of themselves.

“Thankfully, this was spotted by her parents, who are appalled. But what can we do? And can we get that statement to ensure that Spotify and other platforms, streaming platforms, can’t be abused by groomers?”

The Online Safety Bill, which includes measures to try and better protect children online, is due to return to the House for its remaining stages next week.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt told Mr Gwynne: “For both governments and for parents I’m afraid this is all about continuing to be vigilant and having to adapt what we know to protect our households, but also Government is always going to have to be advancing and adapting the tools it has.”

She said she would raise the matter with the relevant Secretary of State.

A Spotify spokesperson told the PA news agency: “Spotify takes the safety of minors on our platform extremely seriously, and we do not allow content that promotes, solicits, or facilitates child sexual abuse or exploitation.

“We have processes and technology in place that allow us to detect and remove any such exploitative material. In this case, we found the imagery in question, terminated the user, and removed the content.”