Update - 16 February 2023 – New department to lead on the Online Safety Bill
Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and appointed Michelle Donelan as science secretary. It has now been confirmed that the Online Safety Bill will sit under the newly created department.
Update - 20 January 2023 – The Government concedes on criminal liability for tech bosses
In response to a rebellion of almost 50 Conservative MPs, the Government has been forced to establish criminal liability for senior managers of tech firms who persistently ignore Ofcom’s enforcement notices about failing to shield children from harmful content online.
The Bill has now moved to the House of Lords.
Update - 29 November 2022 - Introduction of a new ‘triple shield’ of protection
Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, confirmed today that the ‘legal but harmful’ element of the Online Safety Bill has been removed in relation to content accessed by adults and replaced with the ‘triple shield’, being that platforms will be required to:
- Remove all illegal content.
- Take down material in breach of their own terms and conditions.
- Provide adult users with an option to hide potentially harmful materials that they do not wish to see.
- Businesses will also be expected to explain their age verification processes.
The Government has also announced that they are intending to introduce further amendments that will criminalise 'revenge porn' (including ‘deepfake porn' and ‘downblousing’ images), cyberflashing and coercive behaviour.
The Bill will return to the House of Commons in its new form for Report Stage on 5 December 2022.
Update - 4 November 2022 - ‘Legal but harmful’ provisions toned down
Government drops ‘legal but harmful’ proposals: The ‘legal but harmful’ elements of the Online Safety Bill will reportedly be toned down when it is reintroduced to Parliament later this year, following a four month halt. To balance concerns around impinging freedom of speech and child safety, the ‘legal but harmful’ provisions will only be removed for adults.