An Online Safety Bill Is Coming to the UK—But It’s Not Enough

Online safety for kids, internet safety for parents
New UK bill and laws are being prepared in the UK and worldwide

Big Tech faces change, less profit and their worst enemy enforced curation

Since 2007, the biggest companies in the tech industry have been able to do as they like, backed by their enormous power, wealth and, importantly, their job-creating prowess, meaning warm receptions from politicians worldwide. Today, the mask is starting to slip as they face stormy waters, reducing profits and job losses in 2023.

There will be little sympathy from others who have faced regulation and legislation for decades, such as the Chemical, Finance, Pharmaceutical, Food and Automotive industries.

Big Tech said it could self-manage, Wrong!

Big Tech said it could self-manage. Government oversight would stifle ingenuity and impede progress in Big Tech. Nobody has spent more on lobbying and wielding influence. Google, Amazon, and Facebook benefitted enormously and sumptuously rewarded with untaxed profits and no oversight or regulation. 

New bills and legislation are being prepared to curtail these powers worldwide, like the UK’s long-awaited Online Safety Bill. The Online Safety bill won’t be effective. The Online Safety Bill places the duty of care for monitoring illegal content on platforms themselves. Potentially, the new laws may impose an obligation on portals to restrict content that is technically legal but considered harmful, which would set a dangerous precedent for free speech. 

Womens groups, LGBT communities say new act does not protect them

Women, Gay and action groups everywhere want more now

In 2020 and 2021, YouGov and BT found that 1.8 million people surveyed said they’d suffered threatening behaviour online. 23 per cent of those surveyed were LGBTQIA, and 25% said they had experienced racist abuse. 

Women's groups and the LGBTQIA community have repeatedly stated the proposed bill does not address core concerns or provide necessary protections. These communities suffer abuse disproportionately online and need support.

The Carnegie UK Trust notes the term “significant harm” isn't explained, nor how platforms would measure it. Academics and others are alarmed over the bill’s proposal to drop the previous Section 11 requirement that Ofcom should “encourage the development and use of technologies and systems for regulating access to [electronic] material.” 

Other groups have raised concerns about the removal of clauses around education and future-proofing—as it will not address harms caused by technology not yet developed.

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And in Germany and Nigeria

In 2017, Germany enacted NetzDG, the first country in Europe to act against hate speech on social portals—platforms with over 2 million users have seven days to remove illegal content or face a fine of up to 50 million euros.

In Nigeria, the federal government issued a new internet code of practice to address misinformation and cyberbullying, which protects children from harmful content. In 2023, the UK will pass legislation to tackle similar harms, making progress on a regulatory body for big tech. 

Most feel this will not be enough, and more, much more, will need to be done.

Articles of Interest

Articles, Links & Connections from the Internet Safety Talks site you might find interesting

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