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UK tightens online safety bill again as it nears final approval

UK tightens online safety bill again as it nears final approval
Reality television personality Georgia Harrison poses for photographs during a photocall to call for better online protections for women and girls, as the Government moves its Online Safety Bill to the committee stage in the House of Lords, on 19 April 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The UK made last-minute amendments toughening up its sweeping, long-awaited Online Safety Bill following scrutiny in Parliament’s upper chamber, the House of Lords.

Internet companies carrying pornographic content will be explicitly required to use age verification or estimation measures, and ensure these methods are effective, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said in an emailed statement on Friday. Executives will be held personally responsible for child safety on their platforms, the statement said.

DSIT didn’t respond to follow-up questions about the details of this policy. 

Regulator Ofcom will be empowered to retrieve data on the online activity of deceased children to understand if and how their online activity may have played any role in their death, if requested by a coroner, the government said.

It also announced Ofcom will research the role that app stores play in children’s access to harmful content. The watchdog will also publish guidance on how platforms can reduce risks to women and have to improve public literacy of disinformation.

The government will add new offences regarding so-called revenge porn, including a two-year maximum sentence for threatening to share intimate images.

The opposition Labour Party welcomed what it said were “concessions” from ministers, but said it would implement further measures to tackle online harms for adults if it won power, according to an emailed statement from Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell. DM


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