What is the Online Safety Bill?

The Online Safety Bill in the UK.

The Online Safety Bill was originally announced back in May 2021, seeking to impose new regulations on social media companies and other online platforms. It’s main objective is holding these companies and platforms accountable for the content shared on their websites, and to make sure they’re taking steps to protect their users.

Online Safety Bill

The internet has become an integral part of education, but it brings challenges too. It offers a huge range of educational resources and opportunities for students to learn, communicate and collaborate. However it also exposes them to various online risks. For example, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, online predators and social media trends.

Therefore, the UK government introduced the Online Safety Bill to address these issues. It aims to create a safer online environment for everyone, especially children.

Understanding the Online Safety Bill.

The Online Safety Bill has just been signed off by the Houses of Parliament. It’s set to be a landmark legislation in the UK, with big implications for the digital landscape and online safety. This Bill means the UK will be the safest place in the world to be online, with stronger protection for children!

Here’s a breakdown of some key aspects of the Bill:

  • Duty of care. Under the Bill, social media companies and platforms will have a legal duty of care to protect their users from harmful content. This means they’ll need to take measures in preventing people sharing illegal and harmful material on their platforms.
  • Online harm. The Bill defines online harms as a broad range of issues. For example, cyberbullying, hate speech, false information and child exploitation. Social media companies will be obliged to tackle these issues effectively.
  • Regulatory body. Now that the Bill has been signed off, a new regulatory body will be established (referred to as the “Online Harms Regulator”). It will oversee compliance with the regulations and enforce penalties on any platforms that don’t comply.
  • Transparency reports. Companies will be required to publish annual transparency reports detailing the steps they’ve taken to address online safety concerns.
  • Age appropriate design. Online services for children will need to take a privacy-by-design approach. This means that privacy settings need to be age-appropriate and easy for young users to understand. This aligns with school’s efforts to educate students about online privacy and online safety.
  • Educational resources. The Bill encourages online platforms to provide educational resources and guidance on online safety. This will be an especially valuable tool for schools, helping them educate students about online risks and responsible internet use.

How will this impact schools?

So, what does the Online Safety Bill mean for schools? Here are some of the ways in which this new legislation will impact educational institutions:

  • Increased protection. Schools will be able to benefit from increased protection for their students. Social media companies will need to take stronger measures preventing harmful content, which is particularly important given the extensive use of social media by students.
  • Educational resources. The Bill encourages online platforms to provide educational resources on online safety. Schools can use these resources to educate students about the potential risks and safe internet practises.
  • Reporting mechanisms. Platforms will need to have effective reporting mechanisms for users to report harmful content. Schools can use these reporting systems to address online safety incidents involving their students more efficiently.
  • Curriculum integrations. With the growing importance of digital literacy, the Online Safety Bill may encourage schools to integrate online safety into their curriculum. This empowers students to make informed decisions and stay safe online.
  • Parental involvement. The Bill’s emphasis on transparency may aid better communication between schools and parents. Schools can work with parents to help make sure students are practising safe online behaviours both at school and at home.

The Online Safety Bill is a significant step towards creating a safer online environment for everyone, especially children and young people. By holding online platforms accountable for the content on their websites and promoting transparency and education, the Bill aims to reduce online harms.

For schools, it represents an opportunity to enhance online safety education and provide a secure digital learning environment. Schools can play a crucial role in preparing students to navigate the digital world responsibly and safely, setting them up for success in an increasingly digital future.

DfE requirements.

This Bill isn’t the only thing that can protect children from harmful content. The Department for Education (DfE) has standards for connectivity and safeguarding in schools! This is so you can make sure you have suitable school broadband, safeguarding and security in place, alongside a faster and more reliable internet connection. Your school should have:

  • A full fibre connection.
  • A backup connection.
  • Appropriate security and safeguarding solutions in place.

Our full fibre broadband connections meets DfE’s standards. And with download speeds of up to 10Gbps and flexible contract lengths of 1, 3 or 5 years, there’s options to suit all needs and budgets! Plus we work with the very best school filtering, security and protection providers in the industry to bring school internet filtering, monitoring, school firewalls and anti-virus solutions to keep your school safe. It’s all fully compliant with KCSIE, Prevent Duty and Internet Watch Foundation standards too – yay!

So if you’re looking for a new school broadband provider or top notch online safeguarding for your students, then get in touch!

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