Online Safety Bill to return to parliament next month |  internet security

Online Safety Bill to return to parliament next month | internet security

The Online Safety Bill will return to Parliament in December, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt has confirmed.

The Bill’s future has been uncertain since the resignation of Boris Johnson forced it to be removed from the trade papers this summer. Now, with its fourth Prime Minister and seventh DCMS Secretary since it was first proposed in the Online Harms White Paper, the Bill is set to be signed into law by this parliament.

Like Liz Truss before him, Rishi Sunak has been lukewarm in his support for the bill, publicly supporting the general aims of the legislation but expressing doubts about specific elements of the bill that are seen by some members of the Conservative party as legislating to “hurt feelings”, such as clauses requiring action on so-called legal but harmful content.

The government has not yet confirmed the changes that will be made to the bill. Damian Collins, a key supporter of the bill in its current form, resigned as minister for technology and the digital economy in October, and was replaced by Paul Scully.

Child safety groups hailed his return. Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, which coordinates action against child abuse images online, called the bill’s return a “relief”. “We have seen that the threats people, especially children, face online do not go away, and we know that strong and unequivocal action will be needed if the UK is to achieve its goal of being the safest place in the world to be online.

“Now we need to see lawmakers come together in common purpose. The police, charities and big tech companies are all doing a phenomenal job, and clear direction from the government will be a welcome boost.

“The Internet Watch Foundation stands ready to be part of the regulatory solution to the dissemination of child sexual exploitation material online. We look forward to more clarity and to working with MPs to ensure children are protected. »

The NSPCC called for the bill to be passed “without further delay”. Spokeswoman Hannah Rüschen, senior policy officer for child online safety, added: “It is crucial that any changes to legislation do not let tech companies off the hook or jeopardize government promises. strengthen its protections for children.

But other groups have called for the bill to be scrapped. The Open Rights Group says it is not fit for purpose and threatens the freedom of expression of UK citizens. Jim Killock, chief executive, said it “threatens 40 million users of WhatsApp and other messengers with constant monitoring of their private messages.

“It will create a culture of everyday censorship that will disproportionately remove content from vulnerable, disadvantaged and minority communities while claiming to protect them. It needs a complete overhaul.

News of the bill’s reintroduction broke the day 70 organizations and experts signed an open letter to Sunak expressing concern that the bill could become an attack on encryption.

“Encryption is key to ensuring people are safe online, to bolstering economic security through a business-friendly UK economy that can withstand the cost of living crisis and to ensuring national security,” the letter states. calling for clauses that could undermine the technology to be removed from the bill.

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