Trying to track the staggered implementation of the UK Online Safety Act 2023 (“OSA”)? You are in safe hands here. See the latest updates and key dates below.

8 May 2024Consultation opened: protecting children from harms online

Ofcom published the second major consultation focusing on the proposal for how user-to-user services and search services should protect children from harmful content. The proposal includes draft Children’s Safety Code, draft Children’s Risk Assessment Guidance, and draft Children’s Access Assessment. The consultation will end on 17 July 2024.

19 April 2024Ofcom publishes principles for media literacy by design

Following a consultation on good media literacy ‘by design’ is for social media, search, video sharing and gaming services, Ofcom suggested 14 common principles categorised under the following:

  1. Proactivity, priority, transparency and accountability;
  2. User-centric design and timely interventions; and
  3. Monitoring and evaluating.

The principles align with what is expected for services regulated under the OSA.

1 April 2024Additional provisions from the OSA coming into force

Sections 101 (information in connection with an investigation into the death of a child) and 102 (information notices) came into force under the Online Safety Act 2023 (Commencement No. 2) Regulations 2023.

25 March 2024Consultation opened: additional duties applicable to online sites and apps

The regulator started the third phase of online safety regulation regarding extra duties for categorised services (i.e. those falling into Category 1, 2A or 2B). These extra obligations include empowering users with content control tools, safeguarding journalistic content, combating fraudulent advertising, and issuing transparency reports. To formulate codes of practice and guidance, Ofcom invites stakeholders to provide evidence, with a formal consultation scheduled for 2025 to incorporate feedback and finalize the regulatory framework.

5 March 2024Consultation closed: guidance for serving providers publishing pornographic content

The regulator closed the second out of four major consultations According to Ofcom’s timeline, final guidance and Parliamentary approval is expected in 2025. Ofcom also published additional materials, including draft guidance, covering online pornography regulation.

29 February 2024 - Ofcom advises the government on categorisation of services

Following research and industry consultation, Ofcom submitted its advice to the Secretary of State on the categorisation of services. In its recommendation, Ofcom sets out thresholds for each service category:

  1. Category 1 - Thresholds should target services meeting either of two conditions:

    a. Condition 1: Using a content recommender system, with over 34 million UK users.
    b. Condition 2: Allowing content forwarding or resharing, using a content recommender system, with over 7 million UK users.

  2. Category 2A - thresholds should target search services (excluding vertical ones) with over 7 million UK users.
  3. Category 2B - thresholds target services allowing direct messaging, with over 3 million UK users.

23 February 2024Consultation period closed: protecting people from illegal harms

Ofcom will consider all the responses and plan to publish a regulatory statement and conclusions around the end of 2024. The code of practice is then expected to be submitted for Parliamentary approval.

21 February 2024House of Commons Committee Report: Preparedness for online safety regulation

The Committee of Public Accounts published recommendations to the government, including the importance of meeting implementation deadlines for the OSA and for Ofcom to work on ensuring they are well-placed to monitor and enforce the OSA.

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