On 12 May 2021, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport published new internet laws which will be included in the draft Online Safety Bill. The bill has been created to protect children online and tackle some of the worst abuses on social media.
Ministers have added landmark new measures to the Bill which they claim will “safeguard freedom of expression and democracy, ensuring necessary online protections do not lead to unnecessary censorship.”
According to the Government, the draft Bill includes changes to usher in a new era of protection for democratic debate, while bringing an end to harmful online practices. These changes include:
- ‘New additions to strengthen people’s rights to express themselves freely online, while protecting journalism and democratic political debate in the UK.
- ‘Further provisions to tackle prolific online scams such as romance fraud, which have seen people manipulated into sending money to fake identities on dating apps.
- ‘Social media sites, websites, apps and other services hosting user-generated content or allowing people to talk to others online must remove and limit the spread of illegal and harmful content such as child sexual abuse, terrorist material and suicide content.
- ‘Ofcom will be given the power to fine companies failing in a new duty of care up to £18 million or ten per cent of annual global turnover, whichever is higher, and have the power to block access to sites.
- ‘A new criminal offence for senior managers has been included as a deferred power. This could be introduced at a later date if tech firms don’t step up their efforts to improve safety.’
Before a final version of the Online Safety Bill is formally introduced to Parliament, the draft Bill must be scrutinised by a joint committee of MPs.
For more details on the bill, visit this page.