The Online Safety Bill is a proposed Act by the UK Government to protect children online and remove website and social content harmful to both children and adults. If the draft Bill makes it through Parliament, networks failing to comply will face penalties of up to £18 million, or 10% of annual global turnover. The government-approved communications regulatory body Ofcom will also get powers to block offending websites.
Published as a draft in May of this year, the Bill has been raising controversy since its earliest form as 2019’s Online Harms White Paper. Critics say the Bill in its current form is too vague in its wording, poses a threat to freedom of expression and places too much power in the hands of social networks. Its supporters meanwhile argue it could be the silver bullet needed to fight online trolls, illegal pornography and some forms of online fraud. They also point to a clause which repeals the government’s abandoned internet age verification scheme, although it is likely age verification will be needed to access sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
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