The Online Safety Bill 2022

A conversation that I have seen more of over the last few weeks resolves around the new Online Safety Bill. The Online Safety Bill is a new set of laws to protect children and adults online. The bill will make social media companies legally responsible for keeping users safe online. The bill is related to:

  • The biggest and most popular social media sites
  • Online forums and messaging apps
  • Some online games
  • Cloud storage
  • Pornography sites
  • Search engines

The bill proposes to place child protection at the forefront of internet usage by:

  • Making social media platforms remove illegal content quickly
  • Make social media platforms proactive in preventing illegal content appearing in the first place
  • Preventing children from accessing harmful and age-inappropriate content
  • Enforce age limits and age checking measures
  • Ensure that the risks and dangers associated with online platforms are transparent
  • Remove content complicit with harm, including that which promotes self harm and eating disorders
  • Ensure there are clear procedures and systems in place to report problems online

The online safety bill will prevent children under certain ages from accessing platforms. This will include providing age verification / ID before being able to set up an account. Platforms will be required to be transparent in how they are implementing this. In addition, the largest platforms will provide adult user tools where parents have increased control over what their children are accessing.

The Bill requires that adults are protected through a ‘triple shield’

  1. Remove all illegal content
  2. Remove content which is banned by the platforms own terms and conditions
  3. Empower adults with tools so that they can tailor the content that they access and can avoid content that they do not want to see

Illegal content is readily available on many online platforms. Many children and adults frequently come into contact with content which is already illegal. The bill proposes to also make some content illegal to create, such as content around self-harm. The bill will make online platforms responsible for ensuring that this content is wiped from their history, but also is not able to appear in the future either. Illegal content includes;

  • Child sexual abuse
  • Controlling or coercive behaviour
  • Extreme sexual violence
  • Fraud
  • Hate Crimes
  • Inciting violence
  • Illegal immigration and people smuggling
  • Promoting or facilitating suicide
  • Promoting self-harm
  • Revenge porn
  • Selling illegal drugs or weapons
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Terrorism

In addition, children must be preventing from accessing:

  • Pornographic materials
  • Online abuse, cyberbullying or online harassment
  • Content which glorifies eating disorders, suicide and self-harm

Platforms are additionally required to identify:

  • How they will ensure their platforms do not allow anonymous accounts or profiles
  • How they will deal with repeat offenders
  • Limit what suspicious accounts can see / do

Whilst the Bill is still being discussed and reviewed, it opens a new direction for social media usage and protecting those who use it. What do you think?


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