Government introduces Online Safety Bill to parliament

The government has agreed to make changes to the Online Safety Bill and has now introduced the Bill into the Commons. The government has also responded to the Joint Committee on draft Online Safety Bill’s report to confirm that it has adopted 66 of the Joint Committee’s recommendations.

The changes the government has made to the Bill include:

  • requiring the most high-risk social media companies to prevent fraud, including in paid-for ads;
  • listing the existing offences that social media platforms will have a proactive duty to mitigate: these will include hate crime, encouraging or assisting suicide, offences relating to revenge and extreme pornography, harassment and stalking, and incitement to and threats of violence;
  • the government will introduce new communications offences in the Bill, including cyberflashing (sending an unsolicited sexual image via social media or data sharing services);
  • pornography websites will be legally obliged to prevent underage access, regardless of whether they host user-generated content or not;
  • users of the most high-risk social media platforms will have more control over whether they continue to see anonymous content; and
  • whistle-blowers will have a route to legal protections in the UK if they share their concerns with Ofcom.

Lucy Hadrill