The Online Safety Bill could become law in a few days. Speaking during the bill’s final stages in the House of Lords, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay reiterated that the government’s intention for the legislation is “to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, particularly for children.”
He added that attention now moves to the regulator Ofcom who “stands ready to implement this -- and do so swiftly.”
The legislation empowers Ofcom to levy fines of up to 10 per cent (or up to 18 million pounds whichever is higher) of annual turnover for regime violations.
The Online Safety Bill has been years in the making. While most of the focus has been on protecting children, the law started as a way of silencing anyone the government considered a terrorist or doing something illegal.
It now covers anything the government might consider harmful, such as violent content and the incitement of violence, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyberbullying, and adult material being accessed by children.
It is unclear how Ofcom hopes to police the law as other governments, even the more despotic flavours, have tried and failed. It will also mean them taking on the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and other big tech companies with deep pockets.