Ofcom has said that tech firms should start preparing for new online safety rules now ahead of the implementation of new online safety rules.
The Online Safety Bill will introduce rules for sites and apps, including social media, search engines, messaging platforms and other services people use to share content online.
Ofcom expects the Bill to pass by early 2023, with Ofcom powers coming into force two months later.
Within 100 days of Ofcom’s powers taking effect, Ofcom will set out:
- A draft Code of Practice on illegal content harms, explaining how services can comply with their duties to tackle them
- Draft guidance on how Ofcom expects services to assess the risk of individuals coming across illegal content on their services and associated harms
Ofcom will consult on all these documents and expects to finalise them in Spring 2024. Within three months of them being published, companies must have completed their risk assessments related to illegal content, and be ready to comply with their duties from mid-2024, once the Code of Practice has been laid in Parliament.
Ofcom will also identify high-risk services for closer supervision. Companies in these sectors will have to explain their existing safety systems and their plans to develop them once Ofcom’s first set of powers come into force in early 2023.
Ofcom is now calling for evidence from companies likely to fall within the scope of the online safety rules, on the following areas:
- The risk of harm from illegal content
- The tools available to services to manage this risk
- Child access assessments
- Transparency requirements