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Digital Abuse: The downside of our digital economy is being ignored.

Digital Abuse: The downside of our digital economy is being ignored.

by Jennifer Perry, CEO of the Digital-Trust

The UK Government is heavily promoting the digital economy. However, if you review all the government reports and promises what is missing is a strategy on how to help the hundreds of thousands of victims of digital abuse each year.

 Victims are being tracked, monitored, whose reputation are irrevocably damaged, and who are driven to suicide or murdered by their abuser. There is a lack of understanding of the risks associated with the digital world. Currently, there are no digital risk assessment tools for police to identify the highest risk victims. 

There is little help or sympathy for the victims. They are told to come off Facebook or Twitter. It is like telling someone who is getting hate mail and abusive phone calls to seal up their letter box and unplug the phone. 

The answer isn’t to disconnect from the digital world but to manage the threats. The best way to manage those risks are to understand the threats and how to reduce them. Currently, it is left up to the public to understand and make decisions about privacy, security and data sharing. That is unrealistic and unfair.

Technology companies sell features not risks - especially the free ones. User safety is often an afterthought. Sometimes, it is purposely ignored simply because the safer the product the less revenue from advertisers. 

Digital-Trust.org is filling a vast black hole of consumer protection. Government, police, support charities all agree that this is a vital service for today’s digital world but when it comes to funding, there is stunning silence. Everyone is waiting for someone else to pay. The only one paying are the victims.

If the UK is going to focus on the digital economy, if we are going to be a nation of digital users then we need also need to make provisions to help people when it goes wrong.