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Our evidence to the UK Parliament on the Online Safety Bill

October 27, 2021

Oral Evidence: Online Safety Bill

Subject: safety duties, encompassing anonymity, age verification and assurance

We today gave evidence at a roundtable event to the Joint Committee undertaking pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Online Safety Bill.  Below are our key points:

  • Online Age Verification is the foundation of a safer internet for children through a general, well-regulated and convenient mechanism to allow online services to know the age or age-range of their users without users having to disclose their identity to the online services they access.
  • The Bill’s scope is too narrow because it was designed to address only social media. Without amendment to the scope and altering a major exemption, pornographic websites can escape regulation entirely. To avoid this, Parliament should:
    • Add a third category of sites in scope to include all sites with content considered harmful to children (with or without user-to-user services)
    • Exclude sites in this new category from the “limited functionality services” exemption
  • The Secretary of State should publish a draft list of Primary Priority and Priority Content to allow for meaningful scrutiny of the Bill in context.
  • The Bill should regulate to promote an independent, privacy-protecting, standard based, open, competitive and interoperable age verification
    • We support the integration of Baroness Kidron’s Age Assurance [Minimum Standards] Bill into this legislation
    • We are leading the design of a European network to allow for interoperability – verify your age once and use it many times on many services
  • Parliament should add a 6 month time limit for the laying before it of the suite of codes of conduct and statutory guidance to avoid the risk of 2-3 years delay while this is perfected by the Secretary of State and Ofcom.
  • Enforcement powers should be amended to enable them to be applied at scale to 1.3 million adult websites without an individual application to the Court for each of them.
Is the EU Digital Identity Wallet the solution for age assurance?

Is the EU Digital Identity Wallet the solution for age assurance?

With the news that the Digital Identity Regulation entered into force on 20th May 2024, all Citizens and Residents can now look forward to being offered at least one EU Digital Identity Wallet by their Member State by 2026. Given how often age verification has been...