Online Safety Bill Becomes Law after Receiving Royal Assent

27 Oct 2023 UK SIC

We have seen the much-anticipated development of the Online Safety Bill receiving Royal Assent. This brings together years of campaigning by ourselves and individual work by the UK Safer Internet Centre partners, prominent figures, and many organisations who have understood the need for this vital legislation to come in to place as the Online Safety Act.

With this development, many provisions and laws within the Online Safety Act will be implemented in two months’ time. However, the government has also announced that key provisions will commence in the early stages of the Act. As seen on the UK Government website, the development of Royal Assent particularly allows for the following:

  • ‘’the Act makes social media companies keep the internet safe for children and give adults more choice over what they see online’’
  • ‘’Ofcom will immediately begin work on tackling illegal content and protecting children’s safety’’ 

The Online Safety Act brings in what is being seen as a ‘new era’ for internet safety, as legislation allows children and adults more control over the content they see online, and for stronger action to be taken against online harm. Social media companies will now be more accountable for illegal and harmful content seen on their platforms and will have to provide parents and children with clear and accessible ways to report problems online. Companies will also be required to prevent children from accessing harmful content by enforcing strict measures including age limitations. 

Although there are many aspects of online safety that will be impacted by this development, today’s update also adds particular weight to our work within the field of intimate image abuse. Provisions that will be brought into effect will make it easier for perpetrators of intimate image abuse and ‘’deepfake’’ content to be prosecuted.  

By receiving Royal Assent, the Online Safety Act allows the UK’s internet to take a significant step forward to provide a safe and secure space for everyone online. However, as seen by our recent Online Appeals Process campaign, there are still developments to be made to ensure our online spaces can provide complete safety for everyone. Despite this, we are relieved to see provisions being taken into account, with several social media companies having made essential updates with the safety and wellbeing of their users in mind.  

This is a much-anticipated development that brings online safety legislation into place, with some provisions taking immediate effect. As seen through our campaigning, there are still developments that need to be put in place and further questions to be answered however we feel that receiving Royal Assent is an essential step forward towards the UK providing a safer internet for all.  

The act will ensure that social media companies take responsibility and act upon detrimental content seen on their platforms, especially by children. Adults will also be empowered with more choices over what they see online, creating a less harmful space for everyone. New laws coming to fruition additionally support those affected by intimate image abuse – a development that will be seen as a positive one by those who work within the field for UKSIC and relative partners.  

Although there is more work to be done by the UK Government, we look forward to seeing the positive impact of this development and are pleased to see that some companies have already taken action’’
UK Safer Internet Centre Spokesperson  

To learn more about this latest development, and to gain a full overview of what this means, you can read the full statement on the UK Government website.