UK Adds New Offenses to Online Safety Bill

UK Adds New Offenses to Online Safety Bill

The UK government has unveiled plans to strengthen its Online Safety Bill, which includes the creation of new criminal offenses.

The legislation, first drafted in May 2021, will place new obligations on social media sites and other services hosting user-generated content or allowing people to talk to others online to remove and limit the spread of illegal and harmful content. This includes child sexual abuse, terrorist material and suicide content.

The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, will be responsible for holding these firms to account, with the power to fine those failing to meet their duty of care up to £18m or 10% of annual global turnover, whichever is higher.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries has now announced that three new offenses relating to abusive and offensive online communications will be included in the bill. This followed a review by the Law Commission, which concluded that current laws in this area have not kept pace with the rise of smartphones and social media. The new offenses are:

A ‘genuinely threatening’ communications offense, where communications are sent or posted to convey a threat of serious harm. This will combat online threats to rape, kill and inflict physical violence

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