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Preparedness for online safety regulation


The Online Safety Act establishes a new regulatory regime for online safety, with the aim to make the UK the safest place in the world to go online. In 2022, 68% of UK child internet users (aged 13-17), and 62% of adult users (aged 18+), indicated they had experienced at least one potential online harm in the last four weeks.

The Act, which received Royal Assent in October 2023, introduces new duties on search engines, firms which host user-generated content, and providers of pornographic content, to minimise the extent of illegal content and content that is harmful to children experienced by their users.

A National Audit Office report notes that it will fall to regulator Ofcom to regulate a very large number of services, the great majority of which have not been regulated before and are unfamiliar with Ofcom and how it works, and which have no UK corporate or economic presence.

Based on the NAO report, the Committee will question senior officials from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and Ofcom on the extent of preparedness to implement the Act’s contents.