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Self-Publishing News: UK Online Safety Act’s Impact On Content And ByteDance’s Challenge To US Legislation

Self-Publishing News: UK Online Safety Act’s Impact on Content and ByteDance’s Challenge to US Legislation

ALLi News Editor, Dan Holloway

So far this month, we have seen developments in two stories I’ve covered before that sit together under the heading, “Laying Down the Law for Tech Platforms.” I’ll start close to home here in the UK with the latest in the ongoing saga of the Online Safety Act. This is the UK’s legislation that seeks to protect vulnerable people, especially children, while they are online, by stopping them from encountering material that is “legal but harmful.” The recently implemented act required technology firms to take steps to ensure children were better protected online than adults.

That means technology platforms need to take extra steps to ensure children's online safety. This week, it became slightly clearer what those steps would be. The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, issued its code of practice. This includes implementing more rigorous age verification. And where someone using a site is under the age of eighteen, algorithms will be required to ensure they do not come across harmful material. Here are the proposed measures to improve children’s online safety.

I have spoken many times about this story. And I have plucked the low-hanging fruit when it comes to critiquing it, pointing out the difficulties of defining “harmful,” for example. The Guardian also reports on these tech firms' new requirements under Ofcom’s child safety rules. But the possible impact on us as creators is real. We will be affected by this legislation. Our materials will be subject to the newly tightened algorithms, for example. And that could dramatically impact our sales if we have younger audiences (particularly if we have younger audiences who might not be our primary audience). Many highly acclaimed young adult books might have found it hard to reach an audience under these rules.

But there is one more chance to have your say. The government has launched a consultation on what it calls Children’s Access Assessments, with a closing date of July 17. Children’s Access Assessments are things the new rules will require platforms to carry out. In short, if it’s likely that children will want to see something or if children are a target for something, then much stricter guidelines will apply. If you have thoughts about this, do take part in the consultation.

This is an effortless segue into the second story, the wholly unexpected news that ByteDance has officially challenged US legislation that would require it to sell off TikTok or see the app banned from the United States. Watch this space!

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Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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