About our Online Safety Bill news
Latest news on the Online Harms Bill, a proposed legislation that aims to make the internet safer for users in the UK, especially children, by imposing new duties and sanctions on online platforms and services. The bill has been in the making for several years and has undergone several changes and debates in the parliament.
On 19 September 2023, the bill passed its final parliamentary debate and is now ready to become law. The government claims that the bill will make the UK the safest place in the world to be online by placing new obligations on social media companies to remove illegal content and protect children from harmful material. The bill also gives Ofcom, the communications regulator, the power to impose fines of up to 10% of annual turnover or £18 million, whichever is higher, for breaches of the rules.
However, the bill has also faced criticism from various quarters, such as civil liberties groups, tech companies, and opposition parties.
Some of the main concerns include:
- The impact of the bill on freedom of expression and privacy online. Critics argue that the bill will allow Ofcom and tech firms to censor lawful speech and force platforms to scan users' messages for illegal content, which could undermine encryption and data protection.
- The lack of clarity and consistency in defining what constitutes harmful content and how it should be dealt with. Critics say that the bill leaves too much discretion to Ofcom and tech firms to decide what is harmful and what measures are appropriate, which could lead to over-blocking or under-enforcement of the rules.
- The delay and inefficiency in introducing and implementing the bill. Critics say that the government has taken too long to bring forward the bill and that it has missed several opportunities to address online harms such as disinformation, cyber-flashing, and online abuse.
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