The UK's Online Safety Bill, a groundbreaking piece of legislation, became law in October 2023 and is now know as the Online Safety Act. This comprehensive law is designed to create the safest online environment in the world, particularly for young and vulnerable individuals. It addresses a growing concern about harmful content on the internet, which has led to tragic cases, including child suicides.
The bill, which has undergone numerous revisions and debates, introduces unprecedented duties and imposes hefty fines for non-compliance. It will apply to a wide range of businesses providing online 'user-to-user services' and online search services, extending beyond just large social media companies. Companies such as search engines, online gaming platforms, advertising services, e-commerce platforms, and marketplaces will need to implement new systems to protect users and adhere to these regulations, even if they are not based in the UK. We expand on this further in our article: The Online Safety Act: What do businesses need to know?
While the Online Safety Bill is crucial in tackling online harm, it brings significant implications for businesses. Compliance will require additional time, resources, and financial investments, making it essential for companies to understand their responsibilities under the law. The enforcement powers for non-compliance are robust, similar to the UK GDPR law.
The bill's proposals have sparked debates among industry experts, particularly concerning issues like privacy, free speech, and business innovation. As the law approaches implementation, businesses are advised to seek guidance on whether their activities fall within the scope of the Online Safety Bill and how to prepare for its implications.
In light of the severe consequences for breaching these laws, providers of internet services are urged to act swiftly to adapt their processes and ensure compliance. If you need advice on how to navigate the Online Safety Bill's requirements and prepare for its impact, please contact our team for expert guidance.