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UK Government Publishes Online Safety Bill

Posted on 17 March 2022

The UK Government has now presented the much-discussed Online Safety Bill, which aims to expand protection online, especially for children and vulnerable people, and make the Internet a safer place. 

Emma Woollcott, Partner and Head of the Reputation Protection and Crisis Management team at Mishcon de Reya commented: "The Government's ambitious plans to tackle online harms have taken a significant step forward today with the publication of the Online Safety Bill. It is clear that careful attention has been paid to feedback from Parliament and wider society on a range of important issues such as anonymity, cyber flashing and revenge porn, hate crime and scam adverts.

The Bill will need to be carefully scrutinised by Parliament to ensure that it protects victims of online harms, whilst also safeguarding freedom of expression. A number of new criminal offences have been added to the Bill, which could find senior managers at tech companies criminally liable for destroying evidence, failing to attend interviews with, or providing false information to, the regulator and/or obstructing the regulator when it enters the company's offices. 

Many commentators have focused on how the Bill will hold the "tech giants" to account, but the established social media platforms and internet search engines have been preparing for this legislation for years. The challenge will come for the tens of thousands of businesses caught by the new law, which will need to carry out risk assessments to avoid significant fines and potential criminal penalties."

The issues under review are complex and will involve sophisticated arguments. Keep an eye on our Online Safety Bill page for analysis and regular updates. 

To receive further updates as the Bill progresses, please sign-up to our Online Safety mailing list.

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