7 Key Things Parents Need to Know About the UK’s Online Safety Bill

As parents, we all want to protect our children from the dangers of the online world. But with so much information out there, it can be difficult to know where to start or to stay up to date on the new information. That’s why we’ve put together this post, which outlines the 7 key things that parents need to know about the new Online Safety Bill.

As of Tuesday, 19th September 2023, The Online Safety Bill has been signed off by the Houses of Parliament and will soon become law. This bill will make the UK the safest place in the world to be online by placing new duties on social media companies.

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Details of the Online Safety Bill

The Online Safety Bill is a new set of laws to protect children and adults online. It will make social media companies more responsible for their users’ safety on their platforms. Once this law is passed, Ofcom will formally take on the role of the regulator for online safety.

The new Online Safety Bill is a landmark law that could prove to be an important step in protecting both adults and children alike from online harm. With this bill, the government is aiming to tackle some of the most concerning issues that have recently come to light, such as cyberbullying and other forms of abuse on social media platforms by holding these companies accountable for their user’s safety.

Today is a major milestone in the mission to create a safer life online for children and adults in the UK. Everyone at Ofcom feels privileged to be entrusted with this important role, and we’re ready to start implementing these new laws “Very soon after the Bill receives Royal Assent, we’ll consult on the first set of standards that we’ll expect tech firms to meet in tackling illegal online harms, including child sexual exploitation, fraud and terrorism.” – Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive

Furthermore, in an open letter from Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport, details of the online safety bill were shared with the public.

What Does The Online Safety Bill Really Mean?

As a parent or guardian, it’s crucial to understand what this legislation means for your child’s online safety. Here are seven key things you need to know:

1. How the online safety bill will protect children

Social media platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram etc. will be held legally responsible for the content on their sites. This means they must take active measures to protect their users from harmful content or face significant fines and the possibility of being blocked in the UK. The Bill will make social media companies legally responsible for keeping children and young people safe online. In addition, they will be required to remove illegal content quickly or prevent it from appearing in the first place.

2. Protection from Illegal Content

Social media companies will be responsible for removing illegal content from their online platforms. This is a critical step in safeguarding children from exposure to harmful and illegal material. Children will be protected from a variety of harmful and inappropriate content, such as cyberbullying, explicit material, and posts promoting eating disorders. The legislation will establish specific criteria for determining what is considered harmful. As well as providing parents and children with clear and accessible methods to report online issues when they occur.

3. Age Limit Enforcement

Social media companies will have legal duties to enforce age limits on their platforms, typically set at age 13 for most services. This means stricter measures will be in place to prevent younger children from accessing age-inappropriate content.

4. Age Verification

It will be the responsibility of Tech companies to implement age verification measures which ensure that users are of the right age. These measures are essential for enhancing online safety for young users.

5. Ban on Self-Harm Content

The Online Safety Bill makes posts that encourage self-harm illegal. This is a significant step towards protecting children and other vulnerable individuals from harmful online influences.

6. Transparency and Risk Assessment

The Online Safety Bill mandates tech companies to provide more transparency about the risks and dangers faced by children on their platforms. This includes requiring companies to publish risk assessments to keep users informed.

7. Enforcement of the Law

Ofcom will act as the regulator to check platforms are protecting their users. Platforms will have to show they have processes in place to meet the requirements set out by the Bill. Ofcom will check how effectively those processes protect internet users from harm.

In summary, the Online Safety Bill represents a significant step in ensuring the safety of children and young people online. The responsibility for protecting young users will fall squarely on the shoulders of tech companies.  Thereby reducing the burden on parents and guardians. The goal is to create a safer digital environment for children. And to prevent exposure to harmful content that can have long-lasting impacts on their well-being.

The responsibility for protecting young users will fall squarely on the shoulders of tech companies, reducing the burden on parents and guardians. Click To Tweet


Enforcing the Online Safety Bill 

Ofcom will have the power to take action against companies which do not follow the regulations. In light of this, companies could be fined up to £18 million or 10 per cent of their annual global turnover. As well as companies and senior managers held liable. Ofcom will have the power to take appropriate action against all social media and tech companies, no matter where they are based, if they are accessible to UK users.

“The onus for keeping young people safe online will sit squarely on the tech companies’ shoulders.”
— Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport.

In conclusion, the UK’s Online Safety Bill aims to provide a safer online environment for everyone, particularly children. The bill addresses several key areas of concern, including harmful content, online bullying, and age verification. By working with the government, tech companies, and other stakeholders; we can create a safer and more responsible online community for everyone. As parents, it is essential to understand the bill’s provisions and take an active role in protecting our children online. And it is crucial to stay informed and take necessary measures to ensure our children’s online safety.

Read Also: 12 Online Safety Tips Every Child Needs to Know

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