Brief Reprieve: UK Puts Online Safety Bill On Hold While It Sorts Out Its Boris Johnson-Shaped Mess

from the brexit-delayed-again dept

I guess it’s only natural that the UK’s Online Safety Bill — brilliantly dubbed the bill to Brexit the internet by Heather Burns — is getting delayed, just like the regular Brexit. And, no surprise, Boris Johnson is part of the issue again. As you’ll have likely heard, if you haven’t been under a rock, Johnson is on his way out and is currently in the lamest of lame ducks periods as we wait to figure out what other nutty character will replace him (don’t worry, none of the choices are good).

However, that leaves the Online Safety Bill in a bit of limbo. As we’ve described there’s no way to look at this bill and not conclude that it will be the end of the open internet in the UK. There will still be something called “the internet” but it will not be the actual internet. It will be a weak facsimile. An internet modeled on China’s Great Firewall, but with what some in the UK think of as British sensibility.

It will be a disaster.

But, at least in the meantime, with Boris Johnson packing up his office, the Online Safety Bill has been put on hold.

Ministers have dropped plans to pass the online safety bill next week amid wrangling in the Conservative leadership race, as they were accused of having “given up on governing” by opposition parties.

Now, my initial assumption was that this was just a very temporary stay of execution for the open internet in the UK, however apparently at least some of the motley crew of replacement wannabes aren’t entirely bought into this idea of killing the open internet in the UK.

Kemi Badenoch, who came fourth in Wednesday’s Tory leadership ballot, said it was the right move and the bill was “in no fit state to become law”. She added: “If I’m elected prime minister I will ensure the bill doesn’t overreach. We should not be legislating for hurt feelings.”

Still, it seems likely that some awful bill is going to get passed at some point, and then it’ll be a few years before UK politicians start wondering loudly why there’s no real internet industry in the UK any more.

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Comments on “Brief Reprieve: UK Puts Online Safety Bill On Hold While It Sorts Out Its Boris Johnson-Shaped Mess”

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Michael Palmet says:

End of the UK Internet

I wouldn’t be as optimistic to say that British politicians will realise their folly. The Chinese have massive online censorship, but they still have a vibrant technology sector worth billions. British governments tend to double down when they pass bad laws. This will be with us for decades.

Anonymous Coward says:


Not likely in this case. All small and medium-sized UK will be crushed by all the red tape and regulatory compliance burdens foisted upon them by this bill and nowhere near the funds to hire a legal team to navigate it.

The only benefactors of this regulatory scheme are the big tech companies this bill claims to regulate when in reality it entrenches them even further because only they have the ability to comply with everything OFCOM comes up with and the “safety tech” industry such as age verification.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Tho the bill is so unworkable that it is likely to collapse under its own weight just look at the last age verification law that was delayed over and over again until it was quietly scraped.

Ofcom likely does not have the ability or will to enforce 90% of the bill and “safety tech” has always been unworkable snake oil.

Anonymous Coward says:

Do want to point out the bill is so unworkable that it is likely to collapse under its own weight just look at the last age verification law that was delayed over and over again until it was quietly scraped.

I dont think it will end up ending the open internet on the UK becasue the UK has a bad record at setting this stuff up.

Anonymous Coward says:

good ol’ UK. nice to see it’s got it’s priorities in order! even after this Boris fiasco, they will do whatever they are told to do by industries, especially the USA entertainment industries (there is no ‘special relationship’ between the 2 countries, the UK is shit scared of the USA and will do whatever it’s told!). as for ‘protecting the people’, that wont happen without the Internet being totally banned, which is something the entertainment industries would welcome if their plan of complete control doesn’t get through! why it should fail is irrelevant considering all USA courts, security services and 99% of Congress etc do whatever they are told to do by the industries anyway!!

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