ChatGPT-like chatbots to fall into scope of UK law

A dialog with a voice-activated virtual chatbot in the smartphone screen. Polygonal construction of lines and points. Blue background.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

AI chatbots are likely to face scrutiny in the long-discussed Online Safety Bill

Lord Stephen Parkinson, a junior Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was the one confirming the plans to include AI-generated content into the scope of the proposed legislation.

This comes as both search engines and social media platforms are in the process of integrating their service with software like ChatGPT, revealing the potential risks involved with artificial intelligence tools.

Currently being discussed in the House of Lord, the Online Safety Bill's end goal is "to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online" by making tech executives liable for breaching rules.  

The Bill has to keep up with new technologies

"Content generated by artificial intelligence ‘bots’ is in scope of the Bill, where it interacts with user-generated content, such as on Twitter. Search services using AI-powered features will also be in scope of the search duties outlined in the Bill," said Lord Parkinson, The Telegraph reported.

This doesn't probably come as a surprise considering the debate emerged following the first iterations of AI-assistant tools being integrated into the services that people use on a daily basis. 

Both the new OpenAI-based Bing and Google's Bard, in particular, have put the fragility of this type of technology under the spotlight. 

Despite the conversational nature of such language model systems, AI chatbots aren't human enough - just yet, at least - to be capable of discerning between what's true and false, what's good and harmful. 

They might then expose users, especially children, to misinformation and potentially dangerous content - exactly what the proposed Bill wants to halt. ChatGPT-style chatbots seem to be susceptible to political bias, too. 

Talking about the decision, Lord Parkinson said: "The Online Safety Bill has been designed to be technology-neutral to future-proof it and to ensure that the legislation keeps pace with emerging technologies."

While the Bill has been long criticized for the potential repercussions on freedom of expression online, its aim is minimizing exposure to illegal and harmful content online to both adults and children. 

This includes potentially damaging material such as that describing abuse, harassment, self-harm and eating disorders. 

Lawmakers will also require social media and search engine platforms to be legally more transparent with their users about their content moderation practices. 

Tech executives will face harsh fines and jail sentences if they fail to comply with the new regulations. 

The reviewing process experienced delays amid the political turmoil that ended 2022. But now, following several amendments to the first draft, the Online Safety Bill is currently being reviewed in the House of Lords. 

Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to