The Controversy Surrounding the UK’s new Internet Safety Bill

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The UK’s new law is poised to redefine it’s social media cyberspace (Image credit: FE News).

A new internet safety law was passed by the British parliament this week in an effort to control online services provided by the US, impacting social media companies such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and even titans of the industry such as Google. Lawmakers of this bill have justified it as an effort to make Britain the “safest” online environment in the world. On the contrary, those who oppose this bill believe it to be an infringement on their digital rights and privacy. 

This isn’t the first time that the UK has made an effort to clean up its social media cyberspace. In the past, the Digital Services Act passed by the European Union has provided similar resolutions to prevent illegal content from the internet. This new bill has been proposed since 2021 and it has only now reached the King. With its enforcement, children would be sheltered from online hate speech, terrorism, illegal actions, trolls, and scammers. This protection would hopefully provide a sense of safety to anyone navigating the web. 

In order to ensure its effectiveness, social media platforms will now require age verifications to ensure that cyberflashing or other illegal activities won’t occur. Alongside these actions, the bill now criminalizes certain online activities, such as sending unsolicited explicit images to others. This applies to every internet company that is accessible in the UK. Those who are against complying with the law can face up to an “18 million pound fine or 10% of annual global sales.” The consequences of ignoring the new bill can be as severe as facing criminal prosecution and ending up in jail.

While many believe this law impacts their right to free speech, the British government claims that this new law promotes private communication, allowing everyone to feel safe. At the same time, it creates a privacy risk in the sense that sector companies are now forced to increase surveillance, allowing for a backdoor to occur. Once encryption in message platforms such as WhatsApp is no longer used, not only are these companies able to access our messages, but so are hackers.

As social media experts continue to weigh the pros and cons of this new law, we must ensure we navigate the web with caution.

Written by Milanni Contreras 

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