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Online safety bill 'fits the purpose', tech experts say

IT experts lack confidence that legislation forcing tech companies to address online harms will work as intended, with only a small minority believing that internet platforms can effectively and proportionately police “harmful but legal” content

) Sebastian Klovig SkeltonSebastian Klovig Skelton

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  • Sebastian Klovig Skelton, Senior Reporter
  • release time:

    August 12, 2022 at 8:30

The vast majority of UK tech professionals believe the government’s upcoming Online Safety Bill (OSB) is not fit for purpose, with only 19% believing that these measures will actually make the internet safer, Chartered Institute of IT A BCS survey found.

OSB – Due to Legislation Timetable issues, which the government put on hold in July 2022, would impose a “duty of care” on tech companies to identify and remove illegal material and clarify how they would deal with content that was “lawful but harmful” to adults and children. If you don’t do this, you may be compromised online The regulator, which was identified as Ofcom in December 2020, imposed fines of up to 10% of its turnover.

However, according to the BCS survey of around 1,300 UK technical professionals Only 14% said the legislation was “fit for purpose”, while 46% said it was not feasible. While less than one in five think these measures will make the internet safer, more than half think they won’t.

One of the most controversial aspects of the Act is whether companies and How to deal with “legitimate but harmful content” that critics say could stifle free speech online.

While the Act would not require removal of legal content, it is much larger Platforms that fall into “Category 1” — services with the highest risk features and highest user-to-user reach — will be required to clarify how their services handle “priority content harmful to adults,” such as suicide-related material.

While the council has not specified the type of harmful content, service providers will be required to There is a balance between restricting such content and protecting users’ freedom of speech.

Among those surveyed In BCS’ survey, 58 % said the legislation would negatively impact free speech, while only 9% believed “legal but harmful content” could be removed effectively and proportionately.

Another 74% said they thought the bill did not Help stop the spread of disinformation and fake news. Sebastian Klovig Skelton “There is a real need to prevent cyber harm, but this law Just some of the ways to try to get there. The goal should be to prevent hate and abusive online behaviour by preventing harmful material from appearing online in the first place – which requires a combination of technology and social change,” said BCS chief executive Rob Derry. Fundamentally review” legislation.

“Technology itself has the power to ensure that people are on social media platforms Security plays an important role. However, the bill relies too heavily on technological solutions to prevent objectionable content that cannot be relied upon to do so, and may affect free speech and privacy in ways that are unacceptable in a democratic society. Sebastian Klovig Skelton “The legislation should also focus on digital education and recommended substantive programmes for young People and their parents can confidently navigate the risks of social media throughout their lives,” Deri added.

The Act has undergone many changes. For example, when it was introduced in March 2022, multiple criminal offences were added to make senior managers responsible for destroying evidence, failing to attend or Providing false information in interviews with Ofcom and preventing regulators from conducting audits or inspections when they enter company offices.

Meanwhile, the government announced it would significantly shorten the two-year criminal liability grace period for tech company executives, meaning they could be charged two years after the bill became law. Prosecuted for complying with Ofcom’s information request within 10 months.

2022 In July, Ofcom released its online safety roadmap, which initially laid out plans to implement the government’s internet safety regime in the first 100 days of its enactment, but noted that plans could change as the bill develops further. Sebastian Klovig Skelton OSB will return to Parliament after the election of a new Prime Minister on 5 September 2022. KarlFlinders

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