According to Gov, the new online safety bill will keep people safe, but not everyone is convinced by Science & Tech News
The government says its new internet laws will help protect children and combat racism and other abuse.
The draft of the Online Security Act contains:
- Ofcom, the new online regulator, can fine companies up to £ 18 million, or 10% of their annual global sales, whichever is greater, for failing to remove harmful content
- Ofcom can block access to websites
- New due diligence requirements that require technology companies to act not only against dangerous content, but also against legitimate but harmful content such as information about suicide and self-harm
- The threat of criminal action against senior executives if tech companies fail to meet their responsibilities, with the new rules being reviewed every two years
- Technology companies must take responsibility for fraudulent user-generated content, including financial fraud such as romance scams or fake investment opportunities
- The protection of “democratic content”, ie platforms cannot discriminate against political positions, and otherwise prohibited content is permitted if it is “democratically important”.
Pressure on the government to take action against online abuse has been growing for years.
The issue took center stage after a large group of athletes, athletes and organizations recently participated in a social media boycott to protest the lack of action against online abuse.
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said the “breakthrough laws” would “usher in a new age of accountability for technology and bring fairness and accountability to the online world”.
“We will protect children online, fight racist abuse on social media and create a truly democratic digital age through new measures to protect our freedoms,” he said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “It is time for technology companies to be held accountable and protect the British people from harm. If they fail to do so, they will face penalties.”
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Not everyone believes the new rules are enough, however, as the NSPCC warns that they don’t provide the full protection kids need on social media.
Sir Peter Wanless, director of the Children’s Aid Workshop, said: “The government has the option to propose a transformative online safety bill if it chooses to make it work for children and families, not just tech companies.
“The goal of making safety through design is the right one. However, this landmark law could be neglected if Oliver Dowden does not address the complexities of online abuse and learn the lessons from other regulated sectors.”
Jo Stevens, Labor secretary for shadow culture, said: “There is little incentive for companies to prevent their platforms from being used for harmful practices.
“The bill, which the government took more than five years after its first promise to be released, is a missed opportunity to future-proof laws to create an effective and comprehensive legal framework for people’s online safety.”
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