UK MPs want social media bosses to face prison if platforms fail to verify users’ ages

UK Online Safety Bill

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing a major rebellion over his government’s proposed Online Safety Bill, which looks set to toughen up laws around internet porn.

The long-delayed bill is set to create more stringent processes for online porn elements such as age verification, with some industry-watchers concerned that it will make it tougher for sex workers relying on online porn for their income to make a living. It is due to return to the UK Parliament’s House of Commons on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.

36 Conservative MPs are pushing to add an amendment to the bill that would make social media chiefs personally legally responsible for protecting minors from potentially damaging online content, which would include age verification processes for those trying to access porn.

The measures they would be responsible for under the proposed amendment would also include removing potentially damaging content, plus parental control processes, reported BBC News. The 36 MPs want social media bosses failing to take “proportional measures” around these to face prison sentences of up to two years.

Under the current plan for the bill, social media managers would only be criminally liable for such breaches if they failed to pass relevant information to Ofcom, the UK’s communication regulation body.

The Online Safety Bill, if it ever actually gets passed, looks set for further delays as potential rebellions such as this surface. It would have to be passed through the House of Lords, which could be another lengthy process.

The bill also (eventually) looks set to make sharing deepfake porn illegal without the consent of those involved.

Beyond concerns about how the bill might affect the livelihoods of porn content creators, there is concern about privacy regarding how age and consent verification information could be stored.

Read next: UK anti-revenge porn app launching March ’23, plus Bumble and TikTok sign-up to StopNCII

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Jamie F
Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice, among others. He is also the creative force behind the Audible podcast Beast Master.

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