The long-awaited Online Safety Bill in Britain, which would have imposed stricter regulations on websites like Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, has been approved by parliament and is about to become law, the government announced on Tuesday.
The law, according to Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, is “game-changing” legislation.
“Today, this government is taking an enormous step forward in our mission to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online,” the spokesperson said.
Since it was first presented more than four years ago, the measure has undergone significant changes, including a significant shift last year from addressing “legal but harmful” information to putting a focus on child protection and the removal of illegal content.
Social media platforms will be required to swiftly remove illegal content or take steps to prevent it from appearing at all once the measure is signed into law and granted royal assent.
By imposing age restrictions and age-verification procedures, they will also be obliged to prevent kids from accessing harmful and inappropriate content like pornography.
Media regulator Ofcom will have the authority to impose fines of up to 18 million pounds ($22.3 million) or 10% of the noncompliant company’s annual global turnover.
A legal provision that messaging services, backed by Meta’s (META.O) WhatsApp, claim might force them to violate end-to-end encryption has been resisted.
The bill, according to the administration, does not outright forbid end-to-end encryption.
As a substitute, it has been stated, it will call for businesses to take steps to stop child abuse on their platforms and, as a last resort, to develop technology to decrypt encrypted messages.
According to tech firms, end-to-end encryption and message scanning are fundamentally incompatible.
Stephen Parkinson, a junior minister, appeared to give in earlier this month when he stated in the upper chamber of parliament that Ofcom would only ask them to scan content where “technically feasible.”
In response to inquiries on Parkinson’s assertion, Donelan stated that although more work was required to develop the technology, government-funded research had demonstrated its viability.