The amended bill aims to safeguard freedom of expression whilst still protecting children and adult users in the online environment.
The Online Safety Bill (the Bill) was introduced by the UK government on 17 March 2022. The Bill aims to impose obligations on in-scope “user-to-user services” and “search engines” to implement adequate processes to protect users from illegal and harmful online content. Service providers are in scope if they are linked to the UK by either (i) having a significant number of users or targeting users in the UK; or (ii) being accessible by individuals located in the UK and posing a material risk of significant harm to these users. For more information, read Latham & Watkins’ summary of the Bill as initially drafted here and the previous amendments from September 2022 here.
The Bill returned to Parliament on 5 December 2022 with a series of major amendments compared to the previous draft, as detailed in the Written Ministerial Statement on 29 November 2022 and tabled here. The amendments follow criticisms from various stakeholders, including feedback that the obligations relating to “legal, but harmful content” are unclear and/or curtail free speech online and that the obligations relating to children are insufficient to ensure children’s safety online.