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The Online Safety Bill explained

The UK Government have a manifesto commitment to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, they want to deliver this through the new Online Safety Bill.

This Bill has survived four different prime ministers and seven different digital/culture secretaries to reach this point. It has changed significantly along the way, but we are confident it will still help deliver a safer internet for our children.

We welcome any amendments that increase the protections made for children online and particularly hope for the reinstatement of the rules around ‘legal but harmful’ content. Breck Foundation wants the swift passing of the Online Safety Bill – any more delays would be disastrous. If the Bill is not passed by April 2023, it will be dropped, and the process would need to restart in a new parliament.

The time for the Online Safety Bill is now!

What you need to know about the Online Safety Bill:

Key points of the Online Safety Bill that affect children online:

  • Platforms which host user-generated content (e.g. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc) will be held to new standards and rules by Ofcom.

  • If these platforms fail to enact these new rules Ofcom will have the power to fine them percentages of their revenue and, in the most serious cases, block the sites from being used in the UK.

What new rules are platforms being held to?

  • They must create systems to tackle and remove illegal material online, particularly material relating to child sexual exploitation and child abuse.

  • Providers who publish pornographic content on their services are required to prevent children from accessing it.

  • There may be rules related to ‘legal but harmful’ content, however, they are still being debated and finalised.

What is 'legal but harmful'?

  • 'Legal but harmful' has no exact definition, but relates to content that includes anything about abuse, harassment, or that which encourages self-harm, suicide or eating disorders.

  • If rules around ‘legal but harmful’ content are passed in the Bill, then platforms will have a duty to protect young people from interacting with this content.

The inquiry into Molly Russell’s tragic death concluded that the 14-year-old died from ‘died from an act of self-harm while suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content’. The content that Molly was exposed to was categorised in the inquest as ‘legal but harmful’.

To find out more about the removal of ‘legal but harmful’ rules from the Online Safety Bill, please reads this opinion piece from our CEO Michael Buraimoh.

Whilst we sincerely hope the Online Safety Bill has a swift passage through parliament, we also know that educating children on how to keep themselves safe is the best way to reduce online harm.

Hear from primary school teacher, Richard Preston, about why he believes Breck Foundation speaker sessions are essential for every school and every parent.

This information was correct on 5/12/22 before the reading of the Bill in Parliament at 3:30 pm.


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