The UK published its draft Online Safety Bill yesterday.

We’re in the process of reviewing the bill, however at a high level, the draft bill includes:

  • Duties of care that apply to providers of user-to-user and search services. These include duties to undertake risk assessments, and take steps to tackle content on their services that is illegal, harmful to children and harmful to adults. The bill also includes new provisions aimed at protecting freedom of expression, journalism and political debate.
  • Transparency requirements, requiring service providers to publish annual transparency reports setting out the steps they are taking to keep users safe.
  • Requirements to pay annual fees; service providers with qualifying global revenue at or above a specified threshold will have an obligation to notify Ofcom and pay an annual fee.
  • Enforcement provisions which give Ofcom the power to:
    • issue fines of up to £18 million or 10% of annual global turnover, whichever is higher; and
    • block access to sites.
  • A new criminal offence for senior managers is also included as a deferred power. This could be introduced at a later date if the government considers that service providers do not take appropriate action to improve online safety.

Next Steps

This is the draft bill. As a next step, the bill will be scrutinised by a joint committee of MPs, before a final version is formally introduced to Parliament.