Ofcom has urged tech firms to start preparing now for new online safety rules, setting out a plan for the first 100 days of the regime.
With the Online Safety Bill expected to pass as early as the new year, the media regulator laid out the ‘first phase’ of the rules. This will include protecting users from illegal content harms, including child sexual exploitation and abuse, and terrorist content.
Once the law is passed, powers will come into force two months later, with Ofcom, as well as the digital secretary Nadine Dorries, playing a key role in defining remits.
Commenting on the move, Frankie Everitt, Senior Associate in Fieldfisher’s technology practice said he welcomed today’s roadmap.
“It’s particularly interesting as this is the first detailed insight into how Ofcom sees itself as the new regulator for online safety and moves into this new and complex territory”, he said.
“Of particular note is the timeline for enforcement of risk assessments related to illegal content. These will need to be completed, and companies will need to be ready to comply with their duties in this area, by mid-2024.
“The proposed fines also show Ofcom baring its teeth on this – they could be eye-watering if imposed in full.
“There is a balance yet to be struck here on monitoring, privacy and practical application of the proposed legislation. We can expect to see more push back from industry and potential horse trading over the coming months as the regulator and private industry try to find a workable common ground.”
Just this week, the government said that online platforms will now have the legal obligation to take “proactive, preventative action” against any state-sponsored disinformation.
“We cannot allow foreign states or their puppets to use the internet to conduct hostile online warfare unimpeded,” said Dorries.
The bill is in the report stage of the House of Commons.