LONDON—In response to the UK government’s most recent changes to the Online Safety Bill, the Center for Data Innovation issued the following statement from Senior Policy Analyst Kir Nuthi:
This week’s Online Safety Bill amendments have been a mixed bag. Our initial read of the changes still finds significant issues with how the bill approaches anonymity, user privacy, and online safety. The changes to some of its worst provisions, like dropping the restrictions on “legal but harmful” content for adults and the removal of criminal offenses for harmful communications, better protect free speech. But the Online Safety Bill still incentivizes online services to undermine end-to-end encryption and jeopardizes Internet users’ privacy, security, and free expression in the process. Additionally, the continued focus on age assurance and verification in the bill could hurt users’ privacy and anonymity and gate off entire sections of the Internet. The legislative proposal will remain broken until it can ensure UK users have a right to communicate using trusted, safe, and private channels online. Lawmakers should continue making revisions to address these concerns before considering whether to move forward with this legislation.
For more on this issue, see the following from the Center for Data Innovation:
- Kir Nuthi and Mella Tesfazgi, “Reforming the UK Online Safety Bill to Protect Legal Free Expression and Anonymity” (Center for Data Innovation, August 2022).
- Kir Nuthi, “The Effect of International Proposals for Monitoring Obligations on End-to-End Encryption” (Center for Data Innovation, November 2022).
- Global Encryption Coalition including Center for Data Innovation, “Coalition Letter to Parliament: Fix Online Safety Bill to Not Undermine Encryption” (November 2022).
- Kir Nuthi, “Written evidence submitted to the Public Bill Committee by Kir Nuthi, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Data Innovation, on the Online Safety Bill (OSB43)” (Center for Data Innovation, June 2022).