The UK’s Online Safety Bill has received Royal Assent, meaning the owners of social media platforms that allow postings of animal torture videos could now face billions of dollars of fines or even jail time.

The bill elevates animal torture content to a priority offense — on the same level with terrorism and revenge porn — and makes companies legally responsible for the content posted on their platforms. 

Lady Freethinker, along with UK-based non-profit Action for Primates, championed the inclusion of animal torture in the bill. The groups sent a letter to key authorities and also provided information to the BBC and local authorities about a sadistic monkey torture ring that became the subject of the BBC’s documentary, “The Monkey Haters,” and which was cited by the UK Government as an example of how social media can be used to facilitate animal torture. 

“We welcome this important legislation, which will not only boost protection for animals, but also Internet users,” said LFT President and Founder Nina Jackel. “We hope that this lifesaving act will pave the way for similar regulations to be introduced in the United States, where content showing animal torture continues to spread on Facebook and other social media sites.”

The government’s Office of Communications, also known as Ofcom, will be responsible for enforcing the new provisions, including that tech companies must now:

  • remove illegal content quickly or prevent it from appearing in the first place
  • prevent children from accessing harmful and age-inappropriate content 
  • ensure social media platforms are more transparent about the risks and dangers posed to children on their sites, including by publishing risk assessments
  • provide parents and children with clear and accessible ways to report problems online when they do arise

Tech companies that don’t comply with the new provisions will face fines of up to  £18 million (USD $22 million) or 10 percent of their global annual revenue.

Company owners who fail to comply with any Ofcom directive also could face jail time, according to an announcement from the UK government.

An initial consultation will take place in November, with a phased approach to enforcement and a majority of the bill’s provisions to take effect in about two months, the UK government said.

We’re ecstatic that this new bill will include animal torture content as an intolerable danger to internet users, and we hope that similar protections will soon make their way through the US legislative system. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please sign and share our petition to get animal cruelty off social media platforms!

SIGN: Remove Animal Cruelty From Facebook