For some time, the United Kingdom has been cooking up legislation to more tightly regulate the internet for British users. The Online Safety Bill seeks to force tech companies, like Meta and Google, to deal with harmful content on their platforms, with provisions including jail time for executives withholding data and obligatory age checks for porn websites. The bill, which has understandably raised concerns regarding freedom of speech, was due to be put up for a vote by the British House of Commons, but the vote has now been delayed.

The reason? According to BBC News (via The Verge), it's because of the ongoing government crisis in the UK. You may have seen the news elsewhere (and lots of jokes about it on Twitter), but following the resignation of multiple members of Boris Johnson's cabinet, the UK PM himself resigned. As a result, an election to call a new leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore a new Prime Minister, was called. Parliament will thus push back the vote until after it comes back from its summer recess, pending the election of the next leader.

The bill's fate rests in the hands of whoever gets elected as the next leader. The bill doesn't just intend to police illegal content but also content that's deemed "legal but harmful," like misinformation and hate speech. One candidate, Kemi Badenoch, openly criticized the bill, saying that it's very overreaching in its current state. You might be surprised to hear that that's not a rare opinion in the ruling party.

Regardless of the intentions, rules that could be abused through subjective interpretation open a door that many would prefer left closed. While the bill claims it will make the UK "the safest place in the world to go online," critics believe it could erode fundamental principles of modern democracy, like freedom of speech. Other changes to scan for specific types of content have been argued to be a method of government surveillance. And, given how interconnected the internet is, opening this sort of "backdoor" in one country could affect users worldwide.

For the good of the internet, it's probably for the best if the bill doesn't pass — at least, not without substantial changes.