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Online Safety Act

Date: Monday, 20th Nov 2023 | Category: General


Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board are currently commissioning dedicated training to keeping children safe online and the concerns around the Darknet. Further infomation in the next newsletter.

The UK Government has announced that the Online Safety Act has now received Royal Assent putting rules to make the internet safer in the UK into law. The Act initiates Ofcom’s new powers and places legal responsibility on tech companies to prevent and remove illegal content and stop children seeing harmful content.

The new laws take a zero-tolerance approach to protecting children from online harm, while empowering adults with more choices over what they see online. This follows rigorous scrutiny and extensive debate within both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Act places legal responsibility on tech companies to prevent and rapidly remove illegal content, like terrorism and revenge pornography. They will also have to stop children seeing material that is harmful to them such as bullying, content promoting self-harm and eating disorders, and pornography. If they fail to comply with the rules, they will face significant fines that could reach billions of pounds, and if they don’t take steps required by Ofcom to protect children, their bosses could even face prison.

The Act takes a zero-tolerance approach to protecting children by making sure the buck stops with social media platforms for content they host. It does this by making sure they:

  • remove illegal content quickly or prevent it from appearing in the first place, including content promoting self-harm
  • prevent children from accessing harmful and age-inappropriate content including pornographic content, content that promotes, encourages or provides instructions for suicide, self-harm or eating disorders, content depicting or encouraging serious violence or bullying content
  • enforce age limits and use age-checking measures on platforms where content harmful to children is published
  • ensure social media platforms are more transparent about the risks and dangers posed to children on their sites, including by publishing risk assessments
  • provide parents and children with clear and accessible ways to report problems online when they do arise

In addition to protecting children, the Act also empowers adults to have better control of what they see online. It provides 3 layers of protection for internet users which will:

  1. make sure illegal content is removed
  2. enforce the promises social media platforms make to users when they sign up, through terms and conditions
  3. offer users the option to filter out content, such as online abuse, that they do not want to see

The change in laws also now make it easier to charge abusers who share intimate images and put more offenders behind bars. Criminals found guilty of this base offence will face up to 6 months in prison, but those who threaten to share such images, or shares them with the intent to cause distress, alarm or humiliation, or to obtain sexual gratification, could face up to two years behind bars.