The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced that individuals who promote self-harm online could face up to five years in prison. The Online Safety Bill will include provisions criminalizing the encouragement of serious self-harm, whether or not the individual engaged in such behavior. The measures build on existing laws that prohibit encouraging or assisting suicide and will cover behavior such as promoting starvation and refusal to take prescribed medication. Perpetrators can be convicted if police can prove intent to cause grievous bodily or serious harm. The legislation follows a recommendation by the Law Commission in 2021 and is a response to cases like that of Molly Russell, who took her own life after being exposed to graphic self-harm and suicide material online. The Online Safety Bill, which regulates the internet in the UK, is intended to protect children from harmful content and illegal material while preserving freedom of speech and levies fines for noncompliance on companies like Google, Twitter, and Meta. Criticism from conservative politicians and free speech advocates suggests the bill could limit freedom of expression, with some arguing that it may be one of the most significant infringements upon free speech in modern times.
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