Online Safety Bill (HL Bill 19)
Make provision about the promotion of online safety; to require internet
service providers and mobile phone operators to provide a service that
excludes adult content; to require electronic device manufacturers to provide a
means of filtering content; and for parents to be educated about online safety.
Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
1 Duty to provide a service that excludes adult content
Internet service providers must provide to subscribers an internet access
service which excludes adult content unless all the conditions of subsection (3)
have been fulfilled.
Where mobile telephone network operators provide a telephone service to
subscribers, which includes an internet access service, they must ensure this
service excludes adult content unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have
(3) The conditions are—
the subscriber “opts-in” to subscribe to a service that includes adult
(b) the subscriber is aged 18 or over; and
the provider of the service has an age verification policy which meets
the standards set out by OFCOM and which has been used to confirm
that the subscriber is aged 18 or over.
In this section, internet service providers and mobile telephone network
operators shall at all times be held harmless of any claims or proceedings,
whether civil or criminal, providing that at the relevant time, the internet
access provider or the mobile telephone operator was—
(a) following the standards and code set out by OFCOM in section 2; and
(b) acting in good faith.
(5) In this section—
“adult content” means an internet access service that contains harmful
and offensive materials from which persons under the age of eighteen
“harmful and offensive materials” has the same meaning as in section 3 of
the Communications Act 2003;
“material from which persons under the age of eighteen are protected”
means material specified in the OFCOM standards under section
319(2)(a) of the Communications Act 2003; and
“opts-in” means a subscriber notifies the service provider of his or her
consent to subscribe to a service that includes adult content.
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2 Role of OFCOM
It shall be the duty of OFCOM to set, and from time to time to review and
revise, standards for the—
filtering of adult content in line with the standards set out in section 319
of the Communications Act 2003; and
(b) age verification policies to be used under section 1 of this Act.
The standards set out by OFCOM under this section must be contained in one
or more codes.
Before setting standards under subsection (1), OFCOM must publish, in such a
manner as they think fit, a draft of the proposed code containing those
After publishing the draft code and before setting the standards, OFCOM must
consult relevant persons and organisations.
It shall be the duty of OFCOM to establish procedures for the handling and
resolution of complaints in a timely manner about the observance of standards
set under this section.
OFCOM must prepare a report for the Secretary of State about the operation of
(a) every three years from the date of this Act coming into force; and
(b) at the direction of the Secretary of State.
3 Duty to provide a means of filtering online content
Manufacturers of electronic devices must provide customers with a means of
filtering content at an age appropriate level from an internet access service at
the time the device is purchased.
4 Duty to provide information about online safety
Internet service providers and mobile telephone network operators must
provide prominent, easily accessible and clear information about online safety
to customers at the time the internet service is purchased and shall make such
information available for the duration of the service.
5 Duty to educate parents of children under 18 on online safety
The Secretary of State must provide means of educating parents of children
under the age of eighteen about online safety.
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In this Act—
“age verification policy” is a policy which sets out the steps to be taken to
establish the age of the subscriber;
“electronic device” means a device that is capable of connecting to an
internet access service and downloading content;
“internet access service” and “internet service provider” have the same
meanings as in section 124N of the Communications Act 2003;
“OFCOM” has the same meaning as in Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the
Communications Act 2003;
“online safety” means the safe and responsible use of the internet by
children and young people on an electronic device;
“subscriber” means a person who receives the service under an agreement
between the person and the provider of the service; and
“telephone service” means a service providing calls (including voice,
voicemail and conference and data calls), supplementary services
(including call forwarding and call transfer) and messaging and multi-
media services (including short message services, enhanced media
services and multi-media services).
7 Short title, commencement and extent
(1) This Act may be cited as the Online Safety Act 2013.
This Act comes into force at the end of the period of six months beginning with
the day on which it is passed.
(3) This Act extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.