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  1. ITV Report

Katie Price backed by MPs over disability abuse online

Katie Price's petition calling for new social media laws has been backed by MPs after an inquiry found that self-regulation of social media "has failed disabled people".

A report by the House of Commons Petitions Committee said the Government must consult with disabled people on digital strategy and hate crime law.

The Petitions Committee also said social media firms need to accept responsibility for allowing "toxic environments to exist unchallenged".

The inquiry was launched after Ms Price started a petition to make online abuse a specific criminal offence and create a register of offenders after highlighting the online abuse her son, Harvey, who is partially blind, autistic and has Prader-Willi syndrome has encountered.

The petition had attracted more than 220,000 signatures before being closed early due to the 2017 general election.

  • Katie Price presenting evidence to the Commons Petitions Committee in February 2018

Committee chair Helen Jones MP said: "Our inquiry into online abuse and the experience of disabled people has shown that social media is rife with horrendous, degrading and dehumanising comments about people with disabilities.

"The law on online abuse is not fit for purpose and it is truly shameful that disabled people have been forced off social media while their abusers face no consequences."

"There is no excuse for the continued failure to make online platforms as safe for disabled people. Self-regulation has failed disabled people and the law must change to ensure more lives are not destroyed," Ms Jones added.

Social media firms need to accept responsibility for allowing 'toxic environments to exist unchallenged'. Credit: PA

The committee’s recommendations also said laws on hate crime must give disabled people the same protections as those who suffer hate crime due to race or religion.

The committee said it found "disability hate crime was not fully recognised and perpetrators are not appropriately punished".

It called on the Government to review the experience of disabled people when reporting crimes and giving evidence, saying: "Too many disabled people have not been treated seriously because frontline officers and staff do not understand disability. Training and support is needed to overcome this."

A Government spokesman said: "As part of the Online Harms White Paper we are bringing in new laws and reviewing existing ones to make the internet safer for everyone, including disabled people."