The UK has officially passed the Online Safety Act, a controversial bill aimed at making the internet safer for children and adults.
The UK has been working to pass the Online Safety Act for some time, stirring up controversy along the way. The bill had provisions to weaken end-to-end encryption (E2EE), a move that led to Apple, Signal, and WhatsApp to threaten to pull their services from the country if the bill passed. Ultimately, lawmakers backed down on the threat to E2EE, opening the door for the law to pass.
According to a government press release, the Online Safety Bill has received Royal Assent, making it the law of the land.
Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said:
Today will go down as an historic moment that ensures the online safety of British society not only now, but for decades to come.
I am immensely proud of the work that has gone into the Online Safety Act from its very inception to it becoming law today. The Bill protects free speech, empowers adults and will ensure that platforms remove illegal content.
At the heart of this Bill, however, is the protection of children. I would like to thank the campaigners, parliamentarians, survivors of abuse and charities that have worked tirelessly, not only to get this Act over the finishing line, but to ensure that it will make the UK the safest place to be online in the world.
It remains to be seen if lawmakers will revisit their efforts to weaken E2EE, or if they will appreciate the role E2EE plays in protecting internet users of all types, including children.