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New UK Online Laws bring little joy for Schools, Parents

New Cyber flashing Laws coming into place

cyberflashing laws, online safety,
Cyberflashing is illegally airdropping a photo in near range

Proposed laws include jail time & huge fines.

  • New Online Safety Bill introduced on March 17th in Parliament
  • Emphasis on ‘legal but harmful’ content

The UK Government is making Big Tech more culpable for content.

The Online Safety Bill seeks to hold tech giants to account, protecting children from harmful content such as pornography, limiting illegal content balanced against freedom of speech.

The laws pressure social media platforms, search engines, apps and websites to protect children, curtail illegal activity and uphold their terms and conditions.

  • Fines up to ten per cent of their annual global turnover. 
  • Force them to improve their practices and block non-compliant sites
  • Jail time for companies not complying with information requests
  • A criminal offence for destroying, withholding or obstructing investigations

The Bill will strengthen people’s rights to express themselves freely online and ensure social media companies are not removing legal free speech. Users will now be able to appeal when a post is removed unfairly.

It will also put requirements on social media firms to protect journalism and democratic political debate on their platforms. News content will be completely exempt from any regulation under the Bill.

New Laws will make social media portals liable for user content

Making Porn sites age-verify properly

Clearly forcing porn sites to properly age verify is going to be nearly impossible with many teens obsessed with online pornography but it is a start. 

  • Porn sites must do robust checks to ensure users are at least 18 years old.
  • Clampdown on anonymous trolls allows people more control over who can contact them and what they see online.
  • More resources and laws for online fraud 'scam ads'
  • Companies to tackle harmful illegal content and criminal activity quicker.
  • Criminalising cyber-flashing through the Bill.

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Social Media portals will have to tackle Legal but harmful

Social media platforms will be required to tackle "legal but harmful" content, such as exposure; 

  • Self-harm 
  • Harassment 
  • Eating disorders

This clears up previous uncertainty around legal but harmful content.

The priority of these new laws is to protect children, ensure public safety and reduce online crime.

Laws reflect concerns around Molly Rose Russell's death in 2018

Much of the work done here reflects the effort of Ian Russell since his daughter took her own life. His work resulted in Facebook, Instagram changing algorithms in Instagram and Facebook agreeing to curate self-harm content. She had been behaving normally in real life, but her Instagram showed she had been contemplating taking her own life.

Ian Russell, Molly Rose Foundation, said: 

The Molly Rose Foundation and Molly’s family urge Parliamentarians to deliver a safer internet for all, especially our young. The first reading of the Online Safety Bill in Parliament is another important step towards ending the damaging era of tech self-regulation. Increasingly, we are all reminded of the appalling consequences created by harmful online content.

Even nations and governments can struggle to protect themselves from the damaging use of digital technology, so we must do more to safeguard the lives of our young and vulnerable. It is time for the laws, regulations, and freedoms of our offline democracies to be reflected in the digital domain.

What do we think

Graham Mulhern, CEO of BeSecureOnline says. 'This is a good start, but a lot further to go. Pressure on social media portals, fines, and meaningful jail time is all good. Worryingly, there is no sight of a funded programme for schools or any real guidelines. But there are signs of hope, including the recent Man Utd (Mason Greenwood) incident, the Cyber flashing laws and pointing a light on social media portals.

Articles of Interest

Articles, links and connections from the BeSecureOnline site you might find interesting.    

Holly Russell's Suicide prompted UK Govt into action against Instagram

Found a naked picture of your teen on his/her phone

Facebook says kids with 1000s of followers get bullied

Let's talk about Sexting

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