Revisions Made To The Online Safety Bill
The Online Safety Bill was published in draft May 2021 and has recently been "strengthened and clarified"
The Government says that "The Online Safety Bill delivers the government’s manifesto commitment to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online while defending free expression."
One revision presented by Michelle Donelan, the culture secretary, puts social media managers at risk of imprisonment if they do not comply with the bill.
In a written statement shared by Sky News Donelan said that "the bill would be amended so that senior managers who "have consented or connived in ignoring enforceable requirements, risking serious harm to children" face criminal penalties.
She added: "The criminal penalties, including imprisonment and fines, will be commensurate with similar offences.
"While this amendment will not affect those who have acted in good faith to comply in a proportionate way, it gives the act additional teeth to deliver change and ensure that people are held to account if they fail to properly protect children."
BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT say that the "Online Safety Bill must balance liability with education"
Rashik Parmar MBE, Chief Executive of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said in response: “The technologists that I know care deeply about online safety. But protecting young people takes a combination of both policy changes and long-term education."
A previous BCS survey of IT professionals back in August 2022 found that 58% had concerns about free speech implications of the Bill, and only 14% felt it was fit for purpose at that time. Since then, duties on large tech platforms to tackle ‘legal but harmful’ content have been removed from the Bill after challenges were raised by a range of organisations concerned about adults' free speech.
Read more from BSC here
There seems to be a particularly split view on the Online Safety Bill, with some still sharing concerns that the bill remains too weak, such as the The NSPCC, who campaigned to have managers made criminally responsible for failing to offer protection to children, while others, including the former culture secretary, think the amendments have gone too far and contain "fundamental problems", particularly the difficulty of prosecuting successfully given the sort of offences the bill may create.