Govt publishes Online Safety Bill draft

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The draft Bill includes changes to put an end to harmful practices, while ushering in a new era of accountability and protections for democratic debate…reports Asian Lite News.

UK government on Wednesday published new internet laws in the draft Online Safety Bill with an aim to protect children online and tackle some of the worst abuses on social media, including racist hate crimes.

Ministers have added landmark new measures to the Bill to safeguard freedom of expression and democracy, ensuring necessary online protections do not lead to unnecessary censorship.

“The draft Bill marks a milestone in the Government’s fight to make the internet safe. Despite the fact that we are now using the internet more than ever, over three quarters of UK adults are concerned about going online, and fewer parents feel the benefits outweigh the risks of their children being online – falling from 65 per cent in 2015 to 50 per cent in 2019,” the government said in a statement.

The draft Bill includes changes to put an end to harmful practices, while ushering in a new era of accountability and protections for democratic debate.

This include new additions to strengthen people’s rights to express themselves freely online, while protecting journalism and democratic political debate in the UK.

Further provisions will be included to tackle prolific online scams such as romance fraud, which have seen people manipulated into sending money to fake identities on dating apps.

Social media sites, websites, apps and other services hosting user-generated content or allowing people to talk to others online must remove and limit the spread of illegal and harmful content such as child sexual abuse, terrorist material and suicide content.

A new criminal offence for senior managers has been included as a deferred power. This could be introduced at a later date if tech firms don’t step up their efforts to improve safety.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said the recent sports social media protest against racist abuse of footballers underscored the need to crack down on harmful content online and hold tech companies to account.

Iain Stewart (Wikipedia)

“From protecting children from online dangers to tackling abuse on social media, this UK Government bill represents an important step forwards in making the web a safer place for everyone in Scotland and across the whole UK,” the minister said.

UK Government Minister Oliver Dowden said UK shows global leadership with our groundbreaking laws to usher in a new age of accountability for tech and bring fairness and accountability to the online world.

“We will protect children on the internet, crack down on racist abuse on social media and through new measures to safeguard our liberties, create a truly democratic digital age,” he said.

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