Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary for the British government, has suggested that teenagers should be banned from sexting by social media companies. Hunt, speaking yesterday in the House of Commons, said that a culture of online bullying and sexual imagery is negatively affecting young people's mental health.
Giving evidence on suicide prevention efforts in the U.K., Hunt proposed making cyberbullying and sexting more difficult for young people. He suggested that there is technology which can be used to detect when both of these things are happening.
The Guardian quotes Hunt as saying, "I just ask myself the simple question as to why it is that you can’t prevent the texting of sexually explicit images by people under the age of 18, if that’s a lock that parents choose to put on a mobile phone contract. Because there is technology that can identify sexually explicit pictures and prevent it being transmitted."
“I ask myself why we can’t identify cyberbullying when it happens on social media platforms by word pattern recognition, and then prevent it happening. I think there are a lot of things where social media companies could put options in their software that could reduce the risks associated with social media, and I do think that is something which they should actively pursue in a way that hasn’t happened to date.”
Though it was just a suggestion, Hunt's ideas are in tune with the U.K. government's stringent approach to technology and the internet at the moment. Earlier this month a series of oppressive new surveillance laws were passed which will allow the government access the public's web history for up to a year. You can find out more on the bill and how best to protect your privacy here.