The U.K. Online Safety Bill, a piece of legislation that seeks to make the country “the safest place in the world to be online,” has been signed by both houses of parliament and will become law soon. Several civil liberties organizations and activists have criticized it due to its possible effects on online privacy and encryption.
U.K. Online Safety Bill Ready to Become Law
The U.K. Online Safety Bill, a piece of legislation that seeks to improve the safety levels of children and adults online, has been passed by both houses of the parliament and is ready to become law. In a press release, the U.K. government stated that the law will make the country “the safest place in the world to be online,” establishing new rules that messaging and social media platforms now have to comply with.
The bill, which takes a “zero-tolerance approach to protecting children and makes sure social media platforms are held responsible for the content they host” by establishing penalties of up to £18 million ($19.16 million) or 10% of their global annual revenue, has been praised as a milestone by government officials.
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan stated:
The Online Safety Bill is a game-changing piece of legislation. Today, this government is taking an enormous step forward in our mission to make the U.K. the safest place in the world to be online.
Civil liberties organizations and freedom advocates had criticized the bill before, stating that it posed challenges to platforms affected by the so-called spy clause, which allows Ofcom, the U.K. telecom regulator, to scan the private messages of their users.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stated that, with these new measures, “lawmakers will damage the security people need to protect themselves from harassers, data thieves, authoritarian governments, and others” while doing it in the name of online safety.
Encryption could also be affected, even as Stephen Parkinson, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Arts and Heritage, stated that it would not be “technically feasible” to go around it. However, Donelan declared on September 7 that the conversation around encryption “could take place” if social media platforms cannot meet the requirements in the bill.
On the encryption issue, the EFF explained that “neither the government’s private statements to tech companies nor its weak public assurances are enough to protect the human rights of British people or internet users around the world.”
What do you think about the U.K. Online Safety Bill? Tell us in the comments section below.