UK Government Online Security Bill to Hold Tech Bosses Personally Responsible for Illegal Content

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British Government has announced that it would update the Online Safety Bill to make top tech bosses personally liable for content hosted on their platforms. This is a significant change, as it means that CEOs and other senior executives could be held criminally liable for illegal content found on their platforms.

The bill’s update was made in response to concerns that current laws are not strong enough to protect users from harmful content. The government believes that holding top tech bosses personally accountable will give them a greater incentive to remove illegal content from their platforms.

The bill renewal is still in its early stages, and it’s not yet clear how it will be implemented. However, this is a significant development that could have a major impact on how technology companies operate in the UK. Technology and Digital Economy Minister Paul Scully said:

“This government will not put our children’s lives at stake every time they go online; whether it’s by facing harassment or viewing harmful content that could have a devastating impact on their lives. To prevent further tragedies and build a better future for our children, we act decisively and urgently to make the Online Safety Bill the global standard for protecting our children.”

Main points of update bill

Top tech bosses will be held personally responsible for illegal content hosted on their platforms. This includes content that is harmful to children, such as child sexual abuse material. This also includes content that is used to incite violence or hate. Tech companies will be required to take steps to remove illegal content from their platforms. They will also be required to report illegal content to the authorities.

The Online Security Bill, which was submitted to Parliament in March 2022, gives regulators OFCOM the power to impose hefty fines on companies that fail to protect their users from illegal and harmful content, such as child sexual abuse, terrorism, cyberbullying, and self-harm. The bill would also allow OFCOM to hold senior managers personally accountable for breaches of duty of care, and to block access to services that do not comply.

In 2019, Microsoft ranked the UK as the safest internet country. Following the UK are the United States, France, Belgium and Germany completing the top 5. However, Microsoft said at the time that even the best countries still had a lot of work to do to ensure a truly secure online environment. Since then, the UK has further strengthened its leading position with the Online Safety Act.


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