POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: taming big tech to protect kids, plus more positive news
A digital privacy code for children came into effect in the UK, campaigners delayed an oil drilling project in Scotland, and bearded vultures had a record season in Spain, plus more positive news
‘Groundbreaking’ Children’s Code came into force in UK
Tech firms operating in the UK are now legally obliged to make the digital world less intrusive for children, thanks to landmark legislation that came into effect on Thursday. Firms failing to comply could be fined up to four per cent of global annual turnover.
The Age Appropriate Design Code, also know as the Children’s Code, is the first of its kind, and represents a significant taming of big tech. The law requires online firms – including social media platforms, gaming platforms and search engines – to respect children’s privacy and personal data, reducing their exposure to intrusion and risk.
Tech firms have already introduced changes to comply, not just in the UK but globally. Instagram no longer allows unknown adults to direct message under-18s; YouTube Kids has removed auto-play, to prevent children being fed endless videos; and Google has said it will stop targeting ads at under 18s.
Baroness Beeban Kidron, chair of 5Rights, a children’s charity, said the law would tackle the “commercial exploitation” of children online. “This new legislation recognises for the first time that the digital world, like the real world, must treat children differently,” she said. “This marks a new era of responsibility from the tech industry. It’s a great day for children.”
A UK oil project was postponed following protests
Climate campaigners claimed a small victory this week, after a controversial fossil fuel project was postponed following protests.
Oil drilling gear was due to be shipped from Norway to the Cambo oil field in Scotland last week. But before the departure, Greenpeace campaigners (pictured) took to the water in kayaks, unfurling banners that called on UK prime minister Boris Johnson to scrap the project. The shipment was subsequently delayed.
The International Energy Agency has warned that new fossil fuel projects are incompatible with climate targets. Campaigners want the government to withdraw consent for further oil extraction at Cambo, arguing that it undermines the UK’s credibility as it prepares to host the COP26 climate talks.
The contractor for the Cambo project, Petrofac, is currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. A decision on whether to grant consent for extraction is expected soon.
Spain’s bearded vultures had a record breeding season
Conservationists have reported a record breeding season for bearded vultures in Andalusia.
Ten chicks were born at a breeding centre in the Spanish region this summer. The fledglings will be released into the wild, bolstering efforts to bring the bearded vulture back from the brink.
Hunters pushed the birds to extinction in Andalusia during the 1980s, but the raptors have since been reintroduced. According to the Vulture Conservation Society, which bred the chicks, there are now five breeding pairs and more than 40 individuals in the region.
A life-saving cholesterol jab was approved for NHS use
Thousands of lives could be saved in the UK each year thanks to an anti-cholesterol drug, which has been approved for use in England and Wales. Scotland had already rubber stamped the medication.
NHS England says that inclisiran, given twice a year as an injection, could save about 30,000 lives within a decade. It works by breaking down cholesterol in the body.
Cholesterol is caused by eating saturated fats, not exercising enough, drinking too much alcohol, and smoking. It can block blood vessels, causing heart attacks or strokes. Eating a Mediterranean diet and exercising more has been found to reduce cholesterol. Drugs like statins, and now inclisiran, can also help in more serious cases.