Wikipedia has become the latest multi-national organisation to voice data privacy concerns over the UK’s Online Safety Bill (OSB).
The non-profit information repository reportedly said that it would be unable to comply with the UK’s proposed OSB as some of its measures would be in direct contravention of its data privacy guidelines.
Rebecca MacKinnon, from Wikipedia’s parent organisation, Wikimedia Foundation, told the BBC that the proposed safety regulation would “violate our commitment to collect minimal data about readers and contributors”.
The BBC also reported that a senior figure at Wikimedia said the site would not comply with the underage checks required and as a result feared the site could be blocked in the UK as a result.
However, the UK government’s OSB proposes that only services posing the highest risk to children will need age verification. Many industry leaders potentially affected by the new legislation are calling for further clarification as to what the draft proposals may mean in practice.
The UK’s online safety bill was published in draft form in 2021 and has since been making its way through parliament.
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The proposed regulation has sparked controversy over whether measures to ensure the safety of users, particularly those underage, will compromise citizens data privacy rights.
Messaging apps including WhatsApp and Signal have voiced opposition to the legislation which would weaken end-to-end encryption and enable greater surveillance of citizens’ communications.
On 17th April, 2023, a group of executives from leading messaging apps including WhatsApp, Signal and Viber issued an open letter outlining their objections to the bill.
Executives from WhatsApp and Signal reportedly said that if encryption were to be subject to the OSB’s new rules, both companies would cease operating in the UK.
Some business leaders in the UK fear the country may become technologically isolated by increased regulation on multi-national technology companies.
According to analyst GlobalData’s TMT Predctions 2023, fragmented privacy regulations across different jurisdictions will increase compliance costs for global companies. Growing public awareness of data privacy issues has pressured countries to enact more stringent data privacy laws.
“While the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) remains the gold standard of data privacy regulation, the risk of the UK government diverging from GDPR and fragmented data privacy regulations within the US and globally could increase compliance costs for multinational businesses,” predicts the analyst.