On 26th October 2023 the Online Safety Act received Royal Assent in the Houses of Parliament.
After years of campaigning by many organisations involved in child protection, the Bill is a further step forward in the fight for stronger action to be taken against online harm, which has a massive impact on the lives of of both adults and children.
The Act places a legal responsibility on tech companies to prevent and rapidly remove illegal content, such as terrorism and revenge pornography, with a zero-tolerance approach.
Tech companies will also have to stop children seeing material that is harmful to them, such as bullying, content promoting self-harm and eating disorders, and pornography.
Social media companies will be accountable for keeping children safe online and giving adults more control over what they see online, with Ofcom tackling illegal content and protecting children’s safety. Enforcements to age-limits and age-appropriate measures are also a duty of care.
Failing to comply with the rules could incur significant fines.
What does the Online Safety Act mean for schools?
For schools and safeguarding staff, legal and statutory safeguarding duties will remain the same – the Bill doesn’t remove responsibilities or mean safeguarding children online is put into the hands of the tech companies instead.
We believe that in making the new Bill law, it reinforces the message and the guidance that a whole-school approach should be taken when it comes to safeguarding and online safety.
You can view the Government Press Release here: