Foreign interference and misinformation will be identified as priority offenses under the Online Security Bill, the government says
The UK government is about to amend the recently introduced Online Security Bill, which provides for the fight against misleading propaganda from Russia and other hostile countries.
The government has announced that social media platforms must actively seek and remove confusion from foreign state actors that harm the UK.
And while content restraint processes are likely to become an increasingly important function for social networking firms, companies that fail to deal with online interference by rogue states have been fined or blocked in the UK after the government warned.
The changes to the Online Safety Bill, and the fact that it is tasked with actively tackling Russian and other state-sponsored confusion on social media platforms, especially after Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, will not make it easy for Mark Zuckerberg and co.
The government says it will introduce an amendment to link the National Security Bill with the Online Security Bill – “Strengthening this landmark and advancing Internet law will make the UK the safest place in the world to go online.”
And it looks like a new Foreign Interference Offense created by the National Security Bill will be added to the list of priority crimes in the Online Safety Bill.
This means that allowing social media platforms, search engines and other apps and websites to post their own content will have the legal obligation to take proactive, preventive measures to detect and reduce people’s exposure to their state-sponsored or state-linked confusion. Aimed at intervening in the UK.
This would be a very long order considering the sheer scale of the content that people are now publishing online,
Firms must deal with elements of fake accounts set up by individuals or groups working on behalf of a foreign state in order to influence hacked information in democratic or legal processes such as election and court proceedings or to undermine democratic institutions.
Digital Secretary Nadine Doris noted, “Ukraine’s aggression has once again shown how easily Russia can and will use social media as a weapon to spread confusion and lies about its barbaric activities, often targeting the victims of its aggression.”
“We cannot allow foreign states or their puppets to use the Internet to conduct hostile online wars without hindrance,” Doris said. “That’s why we’re strengthening our new Internet security protections to ensure that social media companies identify and eliminate state-sponsored misleading.”
Security Minister Damien Hinds added, “Online information activities are now a key part of state threat activities.” “The purpose of arrogance may be to spread untruths, to confuse, to destroy confidence in democracy, or to sow division in society.”
“Unknowingly, confusion is spread by multiple fake personalities in order to get real users,” Hinds said. “We need a larger online platform to detect and disrupt this type of integrated unauthorized behavior. That is the issue of the proposed change in the law. ”
The government said online platforms “need to assess the risk for illegal content under foreign interference offenses and establish proportional systems and processes to reduce the likelihood of users encountering this content.”
This may include creating large-scale fake accounts or making it more difficult to deal with bot use in malicious misleading campaigns.
Since the first draft was published in December, OSB has faced pre-legislative scrutiny by MPs and peers.
This has resulted in several additions and corrections to the bill.
And what will be of concern for the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google is that a new legal obligation in the bill would be to prevent fraudulent advertisements appearing on their services from being paid.
Under an earlier draft of the Online Security Bill, those platforms had a “responsibility to care” to protect users from fraud by other users.
The government has previously said the change would improve protection for Internet users from the potentially destructive effects of counterfeit advertising, where criminals steal people’s personal information in the guise of celebrities or companies, making meaningless financial investments or accessing bank accounts.
And now the government is adding to the legal responsibilities of social media platforms, which will be needed to disseminate police misinformation by rogue states.