The online safety bill has been revisited, again. Despite the new amendments, it's still a problematic piece of legislation, writes Julian Hayes

In the festival of British politics, the online safety bill is a headline act (again). The controversy it has generated has spanned four prime ministers and countless changes in the tech world. This week, a rebel alliance of backbenchers wrung a last-minute concession from the government, meaning social media bosses will be individually liable if platforms repeatedly fall short of their child safety duties. Superficially simple, the idea is unlikely to be a panacea.

Calls for punitive measures against the poster boys of Big Tech are not new. In 2019, the online harms white paper canvassed senior management liability for breaching a duty of care to keep service users safe online. But the bill omitted criminal enforcement powers against individuals except in limited circumstances. Child safety campaigners criticised the omission, arguing the threat of jail time, not financial penalties, would bring social media companies to heel.

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Previously published in City A.M.

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