As society's use of the internet, especially social media, has increased, it has become apparent that harmful content online can lead to serious real-world consequences. These include the damage caused by online bullying and abuse, as well as that caused by the spread of disinformation and misinformation. It has also become increasingly clear that our existing laws do not properly protect us.
In order to address this issue of online safety, and in particular the online safety of children, in March 2022 the UK Government published the Online Safety Bill. Assuming it is passed by Parliament this legislation has the potential to revolutionise how we interact online and afford significantly better protection to victims of online harms.
Whilst the focus of the Bill is to impose obligations on the large social media platforms, the burden for ensuring this protection will also fall on the approximately 25,000 businesses that the Government estimates will be affected (such as online marketplaces, dating apps, online games and forums), as well as those that operate outside of the UK but which have links to the UK. These companies will be required to put in place systems and processes to protect their users, and to meet new legal and regulatory obligations. Failure to do so may lead to penalties, including fines of up to £18million or 10 per cent of global turnover, whichever is higher, as well as potential criminal sanctions for senior managers.
Keeping up to date
This page provides links to key documents and commentary on the Bill and broader issues relating to online harms.
If you have any questions about how the Bill may affect you or your business, please contact a member of the team or send us an email. Our multi-disciplinary team includes lawyers and non-lawyers with expertise in reputation protection and crisis management, data protection, child safety, criminal law, regulatory compliance and disputes, and cyber security.
To receive further updates as the Bill progresses, please sign-up to our Online Safety Bill mailing list.