techUK statement on the Online Safety Bill
The significant last-minute additions to the Online Safety Bill have raised serious concerns regarding potential impacts on user privacy and the Bill’s overall scope. Specifically, the amendments to categorisation thresholds could unintentionally capture many of the 25,000 in-scope organisations under Category 1; undermining the policy intention of the Bill to focus on services that are high risk and high reach. This expansion could potentially subject high-reach, low-risk platforms to the highest level of compliance obligations, even when they pose no tangible real-world harm to users.
One of our biggest concerns centres on Ofcom’s ability to remotely view tests which use live user data, a move that not only poses a security threat but also jeopardises user privacy. We urge the Government to restrict Ofcom’s ability to view live user data and to ensure these powers are only applied to viewing information in a test environment.
Furthermore, we are concerned about Ofcom’s ability to mandate technologies, including encryption-breaking measures, as this threatens privacy and security. This sets a dangerous precedent that would require further revisions to the Bill to safeguard these critical aspects.
We support the objectives of the Online Safety Bill. Our emphasis lies in the practical implementation of these objectives, which include fostering a safer online environment, encouraging technological innovation, promoting safer online spaces, and protecting the principles of free speech.