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  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

Harmful and illegal content may bypass the new UK’s Online Safety Bill

The online draft shared by the government may give insidious content a bypassed way online. Online safety bills vary from country to country. Similar goes for the UK’s online safety bills. The Commonwealth culture committee warned the government on the new draft. The Online Safety Bill falls short as the UK parliamentary committee shared a controversial plan. The plan, once finalised, would be used in drafting legal proceedings.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee also warned against the new draft. The first Act contains provisions about regulation by OFCOM of specific internet services, specifically ‘regulated services.’ Later comes section two and there with key definitions, including regulated service.

Part three imposes duties on providers for regular services, but OFCOM’s powers and responsibilities in part 4 later act around appeals and complaints relating to regulated services. The Secretary of State’s function around the regulation. The last part on a general and final provision included index terms defined in the Act.

In this Act, user-to-user-service are internet services by whom user of the service generates content. Once uploaded or shared on the service by a user, another user or other users may encounter it. It reflects the draft, and as we can see, there is no restriction around ‘user-to-user-services.’

BBC reported technically legal, such as deep fake content needs specific mention. MPs said those definitions are illegal and must be reframed. Defining the risk of activities around the internet needs to be precise; otherwise, parties looking for a slight hole in the law could do what they do best.

Parliamentarians shared another report in December. They talked about drafting new laws to improve regulation—taking in more offences such as fraudulent advertising and deliberate sending of content that triggers epilepsy. Those were taken into action, but content regarding pornography and child abuse is still unclear.

‘The Online Safety Bill establishes a new regulatory regime to address legal and harmful content online, intending to prevent harm to individual int eh United Kingdom.’

The bill mentions excessive use of the internet, which requires increasing awareness for online content. They can cause serious harm to users and other individuals.

As the country has already moved towards a digital future and is working to make the process more efficient, these rulings are mandatory. But criminals can use these loopholes in Act to get away after causing crime, which will be unfortunate.

Policy background point 4 talked about 69 million images and videos related to child sexual exploitation. Those materials and abuses were referred by US Technogym companies to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2019.

According to children’s charity, the NSPCC said it was ‘crucial the bill is tightened to respond to the child abuse threat comprehensively.’ Even though the legislation is made to protect people of all ages, child safety needs an extra step as it is pretty dangerous. If the laws are not fixed, we could see organized abuse in plain sight because it is not illegal as per the law.

The explanatory notes specifically mention each of the Acts and how they would work in the real world. Before UK’s exit from the European Union, the legal framework for ‘regulation of online services’ was set in another direction. The EU e-commerce Directive (eCD) detailed the rules for online service providers. It mentions transparency and information requirements.

Our last week’s story mentioned how the UK government is banning end-to-end encryption from messaging apps. Though the poll is still waiting, a mixed reaction is running around general people. The feeling is mutual with the government. People want the best which the government will achieve, but co-operation is much needed. But stricter rules on online safety bills are still waiting for final publication.


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