The UK’s Online Safety Bill has been axed

Online Safety Bill

Image Source: Bloomberg

Some controversial parts of the Online Safety Bill have been taken off the bill. These parts would have forced big tech companies to remove legal but harmful content.

People who didn’t like that part of the bill said it was bad for free speech.

Michelle Donelan, who is in charge of culture, said there were no plans to weaken laws protecting social media users. And that adults would have more control over what they see online.

The bill, which wants to keep an eye on what people do on the internet, will become law in the UK by next summer.

But some people, like Labour and the Samaritans, have said that the latest changes are a huge step backward.

Before, the bill had a section that said “the largest, highest-risk platforms” had to deal with some legal but harmful content that adults could access.

It would have meant that sites like Facebook and YouTube would have had to keep people from seeing harmful content.

Instead, tech giants will be told to develop a way for users to have more control over what harmful content they see and what they don’t.

Ms. Donelan said the bill wasn’t being changed and those tech companies knew how to keep people safe online.

She warned that rule breakers would have to pay hefty fines and have their reputations hurt a lot.

Some people who didn’t like this part of the bill said it gave tech companies a chance to censor legal speech.

Critics of the Online Safety Bill

In July, nine prominent Conservatives, Lord Frost, David Davis, and Steve Baker, sent a letter to Nadine Dorries, then Culture Secretary. They said that a future Labour government could use the clause to limit free speech.

If a platform’s terms of service allow it, adults can access and post anything legal. However, guardians should keep children away from harmful content.

Mr. Davis told the BBC that he was glad the bill didn’t include the legal but harmful duties. But he still had “serious concerns” about the threat to privacy and the right to speak his mind.

In some cases, the bill gives the government the power to tell companies to use technology to spy on messages.

Lucy Powell, an MP and Labour’s shadow culture secretary, didn’t like the decision to eliminate rules about “legal but harmful” content.

She said it “gave abusers a free pass and took the public for a ride” and was “a major weakening of the bill, not a strengthening.”

Julie Bentley, who runs the charity Samaritans, said, “this kind of content doesn’t stop hurting you when you turn 18.”

Read Also: Jobs: Why are tech companies on a cutting spree?

But Ms. Donelan said the new version of the bill provided “a triple shield of protection.” Therefore, it was not in any way weaker.

This means that platforms have to: get rid of illegal content

Take down any content that goes against their rules.

Users should be able to turn off certain types of content, the bill will further explain these details.

This could include content that encourages eating disorders or stirs up hate based on race, sexual orientation. But there will be some exceptions to allow for a good debate.

But the draft of the online safety bill already had the first two parts of the “triple-shield.”

Opinions expressed by Miami Wire contributors are their own.

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