27/10/23

Online Safety Bill | Kangs Online Safety Regulations Solicitors

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The Online Safety Bill (‘the Bill’) formally entitled:

A Bill to make provision for and in connection with the regulation by OFCOM of certain internet services; for and in connection with communications offences; and for connected purposes’

has now successfully passed through the House of Lords and proposed amendments are now being considered prior to the anticipated granting of Royal Assent.

The Bill contains a new set of Regulations (‘the Regulations’), under the control of The Office of Communications (‘Ofcom’) designed to protect children and adults online and make social media companies more responsible for the safety of their users especially those most vulnerable, such as children, from mental harm, to counter online fraud/crime and remove illegal content.

The Regulations impose duties of care on the providers of services to ‘identify mitigate and manage the risks of harm’ for individuals when accessing and using the internet in the UK.

Ofcom will be required to issue Codes of Practice and will be empowered to issue penalties for those breaching the Regulations.

The Bill introduces new criminal offences for those in default of the Regulations.

John Veale of Kangs Solicitors outlines the Regulations and their enforcement.

Kangs Solicitors has a proven track record and is highly regarded nationally for representing clients facing Investigation or Prosecution for alleged criminal activity of every description including that of a in Regulatory nature.

Our Team is led by Hamraj Kang, recognised as a leading expert in the field of criminal law and ranked in the ‘Top Tier’ by the leading directories Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500..

If you find yourself under Investigation by Ofcom or any Regulatory Body or require guidance in regard to any regulatory matter, please feel free to call us for an initial no obligation confidential discussion with one of our Team:

Who Will Be Subject to the Regulations? | Kangs Regulatory Solicitors

  • User to user services: internet services where content is generated directly by, or uploaded by or shared by the user of such service and may be encountered by other users of that service.
  • Search services: an internet service that is or provides a search engine.
  • Providers of pornographic content.
  • A User to user or search service that ‘has links with the United Kingdom’ if the service has a significant number of connections to the UK, that are not exempt services, together with services that combine user generated content and search content, not regulated with pornographic content.

Duties & Risk Assessments That Will Be Imposed | Kangs Regulatory Offences Defence Solicitors

Duties & risk assessments will be imposed on those regulated that are designed to protect:

  • against illegal content, fraudulent advertising and fraud offences,
  • the safety and protection of children and defines primary content harmful to children,
  • user empowerment (adult user control of user content),
  • contents of democratic importance,
  • news publisher content and content of journalistic importance,
  • freedom of expression and privacy.

Duties are specifically created in relation to:

  • content reporting,
  • record keeping,
  • children’s access arrangements including age verification for viewing certain content,
  • reporting Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (‘CSEA’) contents together with terrorist content to the National Crime Agency,
  • situations where the technology does not exist for services to monitor individual to individual /encrypted communication, such as Whatsapp. When such technology does exist in the future, a duty may be imposed to report inappropriate/illegal content.

Ofcom will be required to provide:

  • Codes of Practice in relation to the duties and there policing,
  • a Register of Categories of regulated user to user services.
  • and produce Regular Reports regarding various aspects of the Regulations.

Ofcom’s Powers of Enforcement | Kangs Ofcom Investigation Solicitors

By way of enforcement, Ofcom will have the power to:

  • issue Information Notices in circumstances where, for example, in relation to the death of a child, that child may have been viewing suicide/other harmful content,
  • order a Report by a skilled person to assist identifying and assessing a failure or possible failure by a regulated service,
  • interview individuals,
  • enter premises for the purposes of inspection and audit,
  • issue Notices to regulated user to user services to deal with CSEA and terrorism content,
  • issue Notices of Contravention followed by a Confirmation Decision requiring the regulated service to take steps in relation to risk assessments, child access arrangements or in relation to pro-active technology.

Penalties and Prosecution

Ofcom will be able to:

  • impose financial penalties,
  • make Service Restriction Orders,
  • issue Access Restriction Orders,
  • publicise enforcement action.

Additionally, Criminal Prosecution may follow against services and individuals for:

  • knowingly, reporting false information in regard to CSEA content,
  • failing to provide information or providing false information,
  • suppressing, destroying or altering information following the issue of an Information Notice,
  • obstructing or delaying Ofcom in the exercise of its powers,
  • failing, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a requirement regarding interview,
  • failing to comply with a Confirmation Decision or CSEA requirement.

Conviction for an offence may be penalised as follows:

Magistrates’ Court – a fine, a prison sentence to the maximum available or both

Crown Court – a fine, a maximum prison sentence of two years or both.

Who Can I Contact for Advice & Help? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors

As will be observed from the above, the Regulations contained within the Bill will, upon becoming statute law, be far reaching and failure to comply may well lead to a substantial fine or even imprisonment.

If you are subjected to an investigation by any Regulatory Body, including Ofcom, you should seek immediate expert legal advice and assistance.

The Team at Kangs Solicitors offers a wealth of experience covering every aspect of criminal and regulatory law and would be delighted to provide advice and guidance.

If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our Team by:

telephone 0333 370 4333

email: info@kangssolicitors.co.uk

Alternatively please feel free to contact any of our Team as follows:

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