More than 1,000 lawyers from across the country are taking part in the first nationwide legal challenge to the UK’s internet legislation.
They are calling for the law to be scrapped, saying it is undemocratic, undemolising and harmful to young people and their future.
The lawyers, representing a range of organisations and groups, will launch their challenge on Thursday.
It is the first time in the UK that an independent legal challenge has been brought to a law affecting children and their futures, said Richard Lloyd, chairman of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) legal group.
“Children in the US are already struggling to access education, and if the UK law is scrapped, this will mean that young people will have no other choice than to pay for a higher education,” he said.
“In addition, we know that the internet is a key tool for learning, which is why the government has committed to making it available to all parents of young children.”
The law, introduced in 2016, allows internet service providers to block access to sites deemed to be harmful to children and the internet.
It also allows internet providers to refuse to process data requests from ISPs which they do not consider “important” or “broad”.
The ATL is also calling for an investigation into whether the law is unduly restricting freedom of expression.
The law has come under fire for the number of cases that have been brought against it, including the case of a 15-year-old boy who was forced to pay £1,200 for the privilege of having his webcam used by his school’s pupils.
The boy had a problem with the law because he was unable to access his computer, his parents said, and his mother complained that her son’s school was not following the rules on internet use.
In May, the UKs Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled that the law should be scrapped.
It found that it breached children’s rights and “unduly limited their freedom of choice and enjoyment of their rights to use the internet”, and that it was not necessary to restrict the right of young people to use their own computers.
The court said it was “not required to consider the right to access digital content”.
The UK’s Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has said the internet legislation was necessary for young people.
In a statement, she said: “The internet is one of the greatest tools we have for the learning and creativity of our young people, and I want to ensure they can use it safely and responsibly.”
We will continue to work closely with the ATL to help them with this challenge.
“The Department for Education said it had worked with the groups involved in the legal challenge.”
The government is working with the legal experts in the ATO to ensure we have the legal authority to bring a challenge to this important legislation, and that we have a robust and effective legal process,” it said.