The Online Safety Bill has handed its final parliamentary hurdle within the House of Lords, that means it’ll lastly turn into legislation after years of delay.
The flagship piece of laws will drive social media companies to take away unlawful content material and shield customers, particularly kids, from materials which is authorized however dangerous.
The concept was conceived in a white paper in 2019 but it surely has been an extended and rocky street to show it into legislation – with delays and controversies over points similar to freedom of speech and privateness.
Perhaps most controversially, one of many proposals would drive platforms like WhatsApp and Signal to undermine messaging encryption so non-public chats may very well be checked for felony content material.
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan stated: “The Online Safety Bill is a game-changing piece of legislation. Today, this government is taking an enormous step forward in our mission to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.”
The invoice would require social media corporations to take away unlawful content material rapidly or forestall it from showing within the first place, together with content material selling self-harm.
Other unlawful content material it desires to crack down on consists of promoting medication and weapons, inciting or planning terrorism, sexual exploitation, hate speech, scams, and revenge porn.
Communications regulator Ofcom shall be largely answerable for implementing the invoice, with social media bosses going through fines of billions of kilos and even jail in the event that they fail to conform.
The invoice has additionally created new felony offences, together with cyber-flashing and the sharing of “deepfake” pornography.
The laws has obtained widespread assist from charities just like the NSPCC, security group the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), bereaved mother and father who say dangerous on-line content material contributed to their kid’s demise, and sexual abuse survivors.
However, there have been considerations throughout the Tory Party that it is just too far-reaching, probably to the purpose of threatening free speech on-line.
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Meanwhile, tech corporations criticised proposed guidelines for regulating authorized however dangerous content material, suggesting it will make them unfairly responsible for materials on their platforms.
Ms Donelan eliminated this measure from the invoice in an modification final 12 months, which stated that as an alternative of platforms eradicating authorized however dangerous content material, they must present adults with instruments to cover sure materials they don’t want to see.
This consists of content material that doesn’t meet the felony threshold however may very well be dangerous, such because the glorification of consuming problems, misogyny and another types of abuse.
However after backlash from mother and father she confused that the invoice nonetheless duties corporations with defending kids from not simply unlawful content material, however any materials which may “cause serious trauma”, together with cyber-bullying, by implementing age limits and age-checking measures.
NSPCC Chief Executive, Sir Peter Wanless stated: “We are absolutely delighted to see the Online Safety Bill being passed through Parliament. It is a momentous day for children and will finally result in the ground-breaking protections they should expect online.”