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UK's Online Safety Bill postponed following the Prime Minister's resignation

UK’s Online Safety Bill has been delayed until a new Prime Minister is elected. As BBC reports, after the existing Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned, the legislations he planned on passing have been put on hold as well. While the bill was nearing completion and had to be discussed in Parliament next week, the sudden changes postponed it until autumn 2022.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the bill was to tackle issues of harassment, abuse, and other harmful yet legal activities online. The bill also ensures women have better control over who communicates with them and report abuse effectively. It also addresses issues like online bullying and harassment based on homophobia, misogyny, and racism. Social media platforms like Meta and search engines must also avoid fraudulent advertising under this law.

If they fail to comply with the bill, they would have to pay 10% of their annual global turnover, or a fine up to £18m, depending on which is higher. The UK’s official regulatory body for telecommunications and broadcasting, Ofcom, will ensure the application of the guidelines.

While the bill sounds promising, there have been debates over it. Politicshome reports that according to the Head of Child Safety Online Policy at the NSPCC, Andy Burrows, “The Online Safety Bill is a crucial piece of legislation that is fundamentally about protecting children from harm and abuse that is taking place on an industrial scale on social media.” NSPCC stands for National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Childrens, and is a child protection charity in the UK.

However, Ruth Smeeth, chief executive of the free speech campaign group Index, criticized the bill and stated, “It would be catastrophic for ordinary people’s free speech, it would give tech execs like Nick Clegg and Mark Zuckerberg massive amounts of control over what we all can say online, it would make the UK the first democracy in the world to break encrypted messaging apps, and it would make people, like myself, who have experienced abuse online, less safe by forcing platforms to delete vital evidence.”

Via: BBC

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