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The UK government approved the “Online Safety Bill,” which contains measures to protect children from harmful digital content as well as safety against adult entertainment, cyberbullying, and self-harm websites.
After years of delay, the age verification bill to prevent children from harmful content on the internet has passed from the House of Lords and will become law in the UK. It includes mandatory checks on the user’s age whilst trying to access adult websites, as well as online platforms and forums. They also added significant penalties for the platforms that do not comply with the age verification bill. According to the bill, non-compliant platforms can face a $35 million penalty and a 10% fine depending on their global annual revenue.
The Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, stated, “ I call it a game changer in terms of the legislation because it really will make a difference, particularly for children who are at the heart of this piece of legislation. It will mean that here in the UK, it will become the safest place in the world to be on the internet.”
Other potentially dangerous crimes related to terrorism, weaponry, drugs, animal cruelty, and fraud have also been covered in the new bill. The state regulator authorities will enforce the new legislation in the coming months to safeguard children against inappropriate content access. Age verification checks have been an ongoing issue for Christian Charity Care, which celebrated the bill’s approval. CEO, Ross Hendry of Christian Charity Care, stated, “ most younger children encounter inappropriate online sites by accident. Robust age verification measures will help prevent the youngest and most vulnerable kids from being exposed to content that is disturbing and damaging to them.”
It was aimed at all online services to verify the age of users before they grant access to certain content. Companies must also take steps to protect children from online predators. Additionally, companies must create systems to detect and block inappropriate content. Ciarán Kelly from the Christian Charity Care, stated, “Ofcom has been regulating video-sharing platforms for effective age verification since 2020, and despite persistent failures, not a single fine has yet been issued. It is imperative that this time they show they mean business.”