Epilepsy charity calls for regulation of flashing imagery online

Written by Alice Bough (Future Science Group)

The Epilepsy Society (Chalfont St Peter, UK) is asking the UK government to amend its Online Harms White Paper to protect people living with photosensitive epilepsy.
There are approximately 20,000 people living with photosensitive epilepsy in the UK. This form of epilepsy is most common in children and young people; a group of the population who can spend over 2 hours a day online.

The charity has received an increasing number of complaints from individuals with photosensitive epilepsy relating to online content that contains no warnings of flashing images.

“Traditional television content is well regulated by Ofcom with warnings being given both audibly and visually before any flashing images are shown. Unfortunately, the same rules do not apply online and we think that they should,” commented the Chief Executive of the Epilepsy Society, Clare Pelham.

“Many people share videos with potentially dangerous content without realizing the danger that it could pose to someone who is photosensitive. And we absolutely recognize that there is no intent to cause harm here,” explained Pelham.

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There are also some cases in which individuals with photosensitive epilepsy are being maliciously targeted with potentially harmful videos.

“When it comes to deliberately targeting people with epilepsy with the intention of causing a seizure, behavior that some people call cyber bullying, we need to call that behavior what it is – a pre-meditated and pre-planned intention to assault,” stated Pelham.

“Where the behavior is deliberate and intended to provoke a seizure, they should be required to support the police in bringing a prosecution,” continued Pelham. “This behavior is deliberately cruel and hateful and often targeted at vulnerable people.”

The Epilepsy Charity hopes that a change in legislation will prevent targeted attacks such as these, allowing individuals with epilepsy to stay safe online. The government says that it is consulting with the charity to determine how to make the internet a safer place.

Source: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/news/Epilepsy-Society-calls-Gov-safeguard-people-photosensitive-epilepsy-online-15-04-2019#.XLX2xuhKjs1