5Rights Foundation celebrates the passage of the Online Safety Bill in the UK Parliament

5Rights warmly welcomes the passage of the UK’s Online Safety Bill – a major piece of legislation several years in the making.

Since its inception over five years ago, 5Rights has campaigned heavily to see the child safety framework within the bill strengthened, to ensure it accounts for the full range of risks to children online and upholds children’s rights - including their safety and privacy - in the digital environment.

We are delighted that it has passed its final hurdle and will now become law.

The stronger bill owes its successful passage to the coming together of parliamentarians, organisations and individuals, both during and preceding the bill, including the Children’s Coalition of charities and the Bereaved Families for Online Safety group.

The baton now passes to Ofcom, who will begin their work preparing the codes of practice and guidance to support services who are in scope of the legislation to comply with their duties.

“We are delighted that, after five years, the Online Safety Bill will now become law. The mantel of responsibility for child online safety now falls firmly on the shoulders of the tech sector and we urge them to meet that responsibility with the urgency and seriousness that it deserves.

“We want also to pay tribute to the many organisations and individuals that have played a part in the process in particular: the coalition of children’s charities and the Bereaved Families for Online Safety. It has been the wisdom and advocacy of these groups that made for a much better bill. It is now for Ofcom to ensure that it makes a difference to children’s lived experiences and becomes the first step in building the digital world children deserve.”

- Baroness Beeban Kidron

In its final stages, the forensic work carried out by parliamentarians through hundreds of amendments and hours of debate saw the inclusion of clearer standards and rules for the use of age assurance and greater emphasis on how the functionality of services can be harmful to children. A new Clause 1 also clearly states that the objective of the legislation is to see services made safe by design.

The bill also ensures:

  • User to user services (e.g. TikTok, X and Facebook) and search services (e.g. Google, Bing) have a duty of care to children and must carry out children’s risk assessments which consider the potential of harm to children which could arise from content or the functionality of the services.
  • Rules of the road for the use of age assurance are set out in codes of practices, including that any technology used must be effective and privacy-preserving, while preventing children from accessing pornographic content.
  • Bereaved families and coroners’ have a humane route of access to data in the event a child has died, and the online world is thought to have played a part.

Thank you to all those organisations who took part in helping to strengthen child safety as part of the Online Safety Bill.