TV celebrity and former model Katie Price appears before MPs on Thursday in the latest stage of her battle to rid the internet of trolls.
The 42-year-old businesswoman will tell a cross-party parliamentary panel about online abuse targeted at her disabled son Harvey, 18.
She will give evidence over video link to the Commons Petitions Committee, calling for the introduction of “Harvey’s Law” to make certain online abuse illegal.
Writing exclusively for the Mirror, Labour’s Catherine McKinnell, who chairs the committee, says that as an MP “online abuse has simply become a regular part of daily life, as it sadly has for so many”.
Welcoming Katie’s decision to give evidence to the committee a year on from a previous appearance, Ms McKinnell said Harvey had suffered “the cruellest comments imaginable”.
“This is an issue she has campaigned tirelessly on, first giving evidence to us in 2019. Katie’s evidence will once again shine a much-needed spotlight on these key issues,” she writes.
“Our inquiry, backed by hundreds of thousands of petitioners, represents a watershed moment.
“If the Government fails to tackle online abuse, the impact will only get worse, and the potential consequences of that are unthinkable.”
Katie, previously known as Jordan, has insisted the criminalisation of online trolling should not be restricted just to those targeting the disabled.
She told MPs last year: “I know I’m here because it started off because Harvey and his disabilities but this isn’t just for people with disabilities.
“It will help everybody.
“Like me or hate me, I’m here to protect others.”
She also wants a register of people found guilty of online abuse, saying: “If they are big enough to go behind their computers and say these things then I want them named and shamed.”
The Government plans an Online Harms Bill to hold websites accountable if they fail to tackle harmful content online.
But the plan is still in its initial “White Paper” phase, with insiders blaming delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The chairman of the Lords Democracy and Digital Committee this week warned the Government’s landmark legislation could be delayed for years.
Lord Puttnam feared the Online Harms Bill may not come into effect until 2023 or 2024.
He told the BBC: “Here’s a Bill that the Government paraded as being very important – and it is – which they’ve managed to lose somehow.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the legislation will be ready in this parliamentary session.
‘If the Government fails to tackle online abuse, the impact will only get worse, and the potential consequences of that are unthinkable’
Labour MP Catherine McKinnell, who chairs Parliament’s Petitions Committee, writes for the Mirror
As a Member of Parliament, online abuse has simply become a regular part of daily life, as it sadly has for so many.
To best-selling author and media personality Katie Price, it’s the reason she must protect her son Harvey constantly from the cruellest comments imaginable.
To TV star Bobby Norris, online abuse is homophobic attacks and death-threats.
The reality of online abuse is that it does not take just one form.
With people spending more time online than ever during this pandemic, the problem is worsening.
Online abuse can at best wear you down and put people off engaging, but at worst it can have a huge impact on mental health, especially to those who are vulnerable.
That is why my committee has set up an inquiry to tackle this silent menace.
We will consider the scale and impact of online abuse, including on disabled people and the LGBT+ community.
We will investigate what the Government is doing to address the problem and explore solutions for its reduction and prevention.
In the last Parliament, I worked extensively as a member of the Petitions Committee to highlight the online abuse disabled people face.
Over a year later, I fear this Government is no closer to understanding the true scale of the problem.
Today, Katie will share her experiences with my committee.
This is an issue she has campaigned tirelessly on, first giving evidence to us in 2019.
A year on, Katie’s evidence will once again shine a much-needed spotlight on these key issues.
The Government has failed to make progress on preventing online abuse.
Our inquiry, backed by hundreds of thousands of petitioners, represents a watershed moment.
If the Government fails to tackle online abuse, the impact will only get worse, and the potential consequences of that are unthinkable.