Published: December 8, 2021
UK lawmakers have drafted an Online Safety Bill in an attempt to create clear-cut laws in regards to how online platforms should deal with content.
With the widespread use of the internet and cybersecurity being a huge concern, the need for legislation that will protect minors online has become paramount.
Therefore, the Online Safety Bill sets out to not only prevent the spread of illegal content such as child pornography, hate crimes, racist abuse, and terrorist material. But to protect children from harmful material found online and safeguard adults from legal but harmful content.
Giant social media companies are expected to figure out ways of achieving this. The Office of Communications (OFCOM) will regulate the social media companies and make sure that they’re abiding by the new law.
The most challenging part for OFCOM will be finding the “legal but harmful” content, as no one has defined this aspect of the bill yet. The organization’s chief executive says they expect whole teams of lawyers from big companies like Facebook and Twitter to fight this bill.
Companies that fail to follow this new bill in the UK will be fined up to £18 million (nearly $24 million) or 10% of their annual turnover, whichever is the highest.
However, it’s important to note that this bill is still a draft. Therefore, it may change, as the joint parliamentary committee is still discussing where it should go from here.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has some suggestions to strengthen the legislation. These include tackling how offenders use social media, disrupting grooming on social media, and more.
The primary pushback comes from people who think that such legislation will directly impede free speech. Additionally, lawyer Yair Cohen says that Parliament is being “lazy” by letting tech companies figure out how to filter out content like this.
This controversial bill is expected to be presented back to Parliament by March of next year.