The government’s Online Safety Bill has become law.
The rules aim to “ensure the online safety of British society”, according to Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan.
After a tumultuous journey for the Online Safety Bill, which included several amendments and vigorous debate, it has finally reached the statute book.
However, critics have claimed the laws are too far-reaching and will intrude on citizens’ privacy.
The bill sets out rules that companies, including social media sites, must obey. Platforms must commit to remove illegal content, including terrorism and child sex abuse.
The government also wants messaging services to examine encrypted messages to protect children and adults.
WhatsApp and Apple are among the companies that have stated that end-to-end encryption is vital to user privacy.
Proton’s CEO, Andy Yen, believes governments shouldn’t be able to read people’s private messages.
He noted: “No one would tolerate this in the physical world, so why do we in the digital world?”
Many companies potentially affected by the encryption issue have threatened to pull out of the UK market rather than compromise the systems that ensure message security.
While the bill is a headache for big tech corps, some campaigners are happy.
NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless believes children will now feel “fundamentally safer”.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission also claimed it is a step forward in combatting many harmful forms of online behaviour and content.
Ofcom is now drawing up codes of conduct that companies must follow.
The penalties for failing to comply will be significant; rule breakers could receive fines of 10% of their global revenue.