The Online Safety Bill

Sara Spinks 23 October 2023 1 min read
The Online Safety Bill feature image

In this article Sara Spinks reflects on the key features of the new Online Safety Bill.

The Online Safety Bill - Safeguarding Children and Adults

The Online Safety Bill has been approved by the UK Parliament, poised to become law. It is designed to establish the UK as the world's safest online environment by imposing new responsibilities on social media companies. This legislation has been fortified through debates, providing enhanced protection for children, increased control for adults, and clear guidelines for social platforms. The bill's passage through the final parliamentary debate signifies a significant step toward delivering potent child protection laws and ensuring better online empowerment for adults.

The bill takes a stringent stance on safeguarding children and holds social media platforms accountable for the content they host. Failure to promptly remove illegal content or prevent access to harmful material by children may result in substantial fines, potentially reaching billions of pounds, and even the possibility of imprisonment for company executives. The bill also empowers adults to manage their online experiences and offers several layers of protection, including content removal, enforcement of platform promises, and customizable content filtering.

In addition to the primary focus on child safety, the bill includes provisions to address online fraud and violence against women and girls, making it easier to convict individuals sharing intimate images without consent. The legislation also targets fraudulent advertising and non-consensual sharing of intimate deepfakes.

Additionally, the bill amends the law to force social media firms to prevent activity that facilitates animal cruelty and torture (such as paying or instructing torture). Even if this activity takes place outside the UK but is seen by users here, companies will be forced to take it down.

Major social media platforms have already begun taking action in anticipation of the bill. The regulatory body Ofcom will play a vital role in enforcing the new laws, working on implementing standards to combat illegal online harms like child exploitation, fraud, and terrorism.

The Online Safety Bill represents a significant step forward in ensuring online safety for both children and adults in the UK, aiming to create a safer online environment for all.

Sara Spinks

SSS Author & Former Headteacher

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