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Home // How Does The Online Safety Act Affect Defamation Cases?

The Online Safety Act, 2023 (the Act) significantly changed the digital landscape. For defamation lawyers like us the Act raised questions about how it might affect different defamation legal issues. The changes brought in by the Act are intended to improve online safety for the public and to ensure accountability for online service providers and social media platforms. 

Understanding The Online Safety Act

The Act is a ground-breaking piece of legislation that aims to address the problems associated with harmful online content. It attempts to shield internet users—children in particular—from various online dangers like exposure to offensive content, harassment, and cyberbullying. The Act imposes legal obligations on online service providers and social media companies to protect their users’ privacy and take down offensive and illegal content as soon as possible. 

Defamation In The Digital Age

Online defamation has long been a problem, including slander (spoken defamation) and libel (written defamation). Because social media platforms are so widely used and information can be shared so easily online, people’s reputations can be seriously harmed by false statements that spread quickly. The prevalence of online defamation has made it more difficult for traditional legal frameworks to effectively prevent and address this kind of harm.

Implications Of The Online Safety Act For Defamation

The Online Safety Act contains several provisions that we think could impact defamation cases. These include:


  • Online platforms’ responsibility: Under the new rules, online platforms must quickly remove any unlawful or harmful content. This covers any potentially posted defamatory content on their platforms. To meet the Act’s requirements, platforms will have reliable procedures in place for recognising the risk of defamation and for handling defamation cases.


  • Regulation and Oversight by OFCOM: The Act assigns the responsibility for regulating and enforcing compliance with the new legal duties to OFCOM, the media and telecommunications regulator. Because of OFCOM’s oversight, there may be more eyes on how online platforms handle defamation cases and greater pressure on the platforms to ensure they are doing everything they can to shield users from offensive content.


  • Fines and Penalties: Internet companies that don’t take down offensive material promptly may be subject to fines of up to £18 million or 10% of their annual worldwide sales, whichever is greater. This substantial financial impact emphasises how crucial it is that platforms take defamation seriously and put in place efficient procedures for moderation and content removal.


  • User Empowerment: Another important aspect of the Act is the provision of greater control over online content to individuals through user empowerment. Users may have more options for reporting and seeking redress for defamatory content, which could have an impact on defamation cases.


The passing of the Act is a major step in the direction of establishing a safer online environment. The Act’s provisions affect defamation laws even though its main goal is to combat harmful content. Online platforms must adjust to the new regulatory environment and make sure they have strong mechanisms in place to deal with cases of defamation. The Act is anticipated to have a significant impact on defamation laws in the digital age due to OFCOM’s oversight and the possibility of heavy fines for noncompliance.


Contact Us 

The team of skilled legal professionals at Nath Solicitors is here to assist you and provide guidance when you find yourself navigating the complexities of defamation laws and eth Online Safety Act.  Whether you are a social media platform trying to ensure compliance with the new regulations or an individual dealing with defamatory content online, we are ready to offer expert advice and support. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Contact us on 44 (0) 203 983 8278 or get in touch with the firm online


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