Britain passes sweeping new online security law

Britain passes sweeping new online security law

Britain passed a sweeping law on Tuesday to regulate online content, introducing age-verification requirements for pornography sites and other rules to reduce hate speech, harassment and other illegal content.

online security bill, which also applies to terrorist propaganda, online fraud and child protection, is one of the most far-reaching attempts by a Western democracy to regulate online speech. Nearly 300 pages long, the new rules took more than five years to develop, sparking intense debate about balancing free expression and privacy against preventing harmful content specifically targeted at children.

At one point, messaging services including WhatsApp and Signal threatened to leave the British market entirely unless provisions of the bill were changed to weaken encryption standards.

The British law goes further than other efforts to regulate online content, forcing companies to actively screen for objectionable material and decide whether it is illegal, according to Graham Smith of London. Instead they are required to take action only after becoming aware of illegal content. Lawyer focused on Internet law.

It’s part of a wave of rules in Europe aimed at ending the era of self-regulation in which tech companies set their own policies about what content can remain up or be removed. The Digital Services Act, a European Union law, recently began to take effect and requires companies to more aggressively police their platforms for illegal content.

“The Online Safety Bill is game-changing legislation,” British Technology Secretary Michelle Donnellan said in a statement. “This Government is taking a big step forward in our mission to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.”

British political figures were under pressure to pass a new policy as concerns grew about the mental health effects of internet and social media use among young people. Families who blamed social media for their children’s suicide were among the most aggressive supporters of the bill.

Under the new law, content targeted at children that promotes suicide, self-harm and eating disorders is to be banned. Pornography companies, social media platforms and other services would be required to introduce age-verification measures to prevent children from accessing pornography, a change that some groups have said would harm the availability of information online and Will reduce privacy. The Wikimedia Foundation, the operator of Wikipedia, has said that this will happen unable to comply with the law and may result in being blocked.

TikTok, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram will also be required to offer features that allow users to opt out of encountering small amounts of harmful content, such as eating disorders, self-harm, racism, misogyny or anti-Semitism. Give.

Lorna Woods, professor of Internet law at the university, said, “At the core of the bill is a simple idea: providers should consider the potential risks that their services pose and try to mitigate them – as do many other industries. Already doing.” of Essex, who helped draft the legislation.

The bill has been criticized by tech companies, free speech activists and privacy groups, who say it jeopardizes free speech because it would incentivize companies to remove content.

Questions remain about how the law will be enforced. The responsibility falls to Ofcom, the British regulator in charge of overseeing broadcast television and telecommunications, which will now have to outline rules to oversee online security.

Companies that don’t comply could face fines of up to 18 million pounds, or about $22.3 million, a small sum for tech giants that make billions per quarter. Company executives could face criminal action for not providing information during Ofcom investigations, or for not following rules relating to child protection and child sexual exploitation.

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