As the UK Government looks to introduce new laws to make the UK the safest place to be online we are urging the Chancellor of Exchequer to ring-fence at least 10% of the new digital services tax to help achieve this.
In the social media age, online abuse is the new source of women’s oppression, and women with intersecting identities are disproportionately targeted. Amnesty International found that one in five women in the UK have suffered online abuse or harassment, and Black women are 84% more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets. Online abuse prevents women from taking part in politics and public life. At the last election, a number of female MPs stood down, citing the abuse they received as one of the key reasons for this. The use of digital spaces has increased significantly in light of COVID-19, and with it has come reports of an increase in abuse and harassment online.
In October 2018, the UK Chancellor announced a new Digital Services Tax of 2% on tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter expecting to generate £350 million. According to the Office for National Statistics, this ‘tech tax’ raised £29 million in the first month of operation alone. The ‘polluter pays’ principle, endorsed by the OECD for almost 50 years suggests that the companies that enable these harms to society should pay to help rectify the damage they have caused. By ring-fencing at least 10% of this new tax annually for ending online abuse against women and girls, the Government can commit at least £3.5 million to further establishing online standards which are fair and necessary to the growing digital economy.
To efficiently and effectively combat online abuse and violence against women and girls, we recommend this 10% should be pledged to civil society organisations to help fund their vital work to end online abuse, such as training on digital citizenship and online safety.
The UK has positively benefited from Internet innovations and to continue to benefit we need to manage the related threats of online harms and violence in the digital world. We wouldn’t stand for sexist, racist or violent threats in our society so we shouldn’t stand for it online. We cannot wait for legislation–we need practical action now. Let’s be global leaders in creating ethical online standards. Reinvest at least 1% of the new digital services tax into further establishing our global-leading digital economy and ensure that everyone can benefit from participation in the online world.
We have written to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, calling for the government to commit 10% of the Digital Services Tax to tackling online abuse of women and girls and ensure that the UK’s broader online harms and data protection agenda are protected in any trade agreements.
To make this happen, we need your help. Please also write to your MP, asking them to support our campaign, using the link below.
If you are an organisation who would like to support this campaign, please email