Yesterday (Tuesday 19th September), the Online Safety Bill passed its final parliamentary debate, being signed off by the Houses of Parliament and ready to become UK law. The bill has now been in motion for a number of years, facing numerous scrutiny and debate from both the House of Lords and Commons in how it will ensure appropriate online protections for children and adults.
We ourselves have campaigned over many years to strengthen the Online Safety Bill in how it will protect users from harmful online content through the implementation of an independent appeals process, for online reporting. Along with many other admirable campaigners such as Georgia Harrison’s work in tackling violence against women and girls, the UK has collectively worked to ensure this Bill is doing everything it can to keep people safe online.
What will Become Law?
The Bill has been stated to have a ‘zero-tolerance approach to protecting children online’ whilst empowering ‘adults to take control of what they see online’. Many new expectations will be brought forward, some of which include:
- Social media firms preventing children from accessing harmful content whilst enforcing age limits and checking measures.
- Social media firms providing parents and children with clear and accessible ways to report problems online.
- Ensuring the removal of illegal content.
- Providing adults with options to filter out harmful online content e.g. bullying.
- Preventing users from being exposed to fraudulent adverts by blocking scams
- Preventing online activity showing animal cruelty and torture
We hope the Bill will meet the public expectation but if these new obligations are not met then Ofcom could fine online platforms millions under the new Bill. As well as new laws for platforms, there has been significant development around laws surrounding intimate image abuse. Under the new Bill, it will be easier to charge perpetrators who share intimate images and deepfakes without consent, with a base penalty of six months in custody.
David Wright CEO of SWGfL said:
To see this Bill set to become law is a momentous milestone for the UK. For many years we have worked to ensure that everyone can benefit from technology free from harm, working with industry and the Government to identify where more protections are needed. To have this legislation now in place, it will mean better protections, stronger measures and more responsibilities. We welcome this Bill and are eager to see it being implemented across the UK. Everyone should benefit from technology, free from harm and with this new piece of legislation, we are potentially closer to achieving that goal.