From what feels like time immemorial the UK government has paraded its proposed online harms legislation under the banner of ‘What is Illegal Offline is Illegal Online’. As a description of what is now the Online Safety Bill, the slogan is ill-fitting. The Bill contains nothing that extends to online behaviour a criminal offence that was previously limited to offline. Continue reading
In a rare show of national unity, disapproval of the OSB has spanned both ends of the political spectrum. Alongside criticism from the Labour culture minister, Conservative politicians have also weighed in on the ‘legal but harmful’ debate. Thinktanks and non-profit groups have likewise been apprehensive.
A number of Bills proposed by the recent Conservative governments have sparked controversy among commentators: among them, the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, the Retained EU Law Bill, and the ‘British’ Bill of Rights Bill. Taking its place in the rogues’ gallery is the Online Safety Bill (OSB)[pdf].Continue reading
You may never have heard of Omegle–or perhaps you have. It is an online platform that allows people to meet and talk to total strangers online through video links. Participants are randomly paired but there is also a form of self-selection by indicating shared interests. Once people are paired, they can stay and chat or move to another partner. Continue reading
On 28 April 2022, with little advance notice, an announcement was released by various governments informing the world that they had just signed a “Declaration for the Future of the Internet”. In all, sixty-one countries signed this grandiose-sounding document, ranging from Albania to Uruguay. Signatories notably included the US, which was the sponsor of the Declaration, the 27 countries of the EU, the UK, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and four of the five Nordic countries. Continue reading
The Online Safety Bill [pdf] (OSB) is a gorilla of a thing, comprising 213 pages, plus explanatory notes, impact assessment and human rights statement. It will take a while for people to understand how the regime introduced by the OSB is likely to work. Continue reading