Rumble, an online platform branded as a "refuge" for free speech and used by comedian Russell Brand, could face the risk of being shut down in the United Kingdom under newly approved safety laws, according to technology experts.
Brand has been using the platform to host his daily programme, Stay Free, for the past year, and now the platform finds itself in the crosshairs of UK regulatory authority Ofcom, following the recent parliamentary approval of the Online Safety Bill, The Sun reports.
The new legislation mandates that internet companies must prevent minors from accessing pornography, material promoting eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide. Furthermore, the bill targets violent content, health misinformation, including vaccine-related content, and illegal material such as videos encouraging violence or hate speech.
Lord Allan of Hallam, a former Facebook executive, commented to The Times that Rumble's management might be discouraged from operating in Britain due to these more stringent rules.
"Their whole philosophy is freedom of expression. When they receive a notice from Ofcom outlining their new obligations, they are more likely to pull out of the UK market," he said. Non-compliance with Ofcom could expose Rumble executives to arrest should they visit Britain.
Dame Caroline Dinenage, Chair of the Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, recently questioned whether Rumble would suspend Brand's ability to monetize his content. This inquiry came on the heels of YouTube's announcement to demonetize Brand's account and the removal of hid content from the BBC and Channel 4 streaming sites.
Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski responded to Dame Caroline, describing it as "deeply inappropriate and dangerous" for the UK parliament to dictate who can speak or earn a living on their platform.
Ofcom stated that it is preparing to enforce online safety by ensuring that tech companies adopt effective measures to protect users, particularly minors.
Russell Brand, who has a following of 1.4 million on Rumble, has been accused by four women of rape, sexual assault, and abuse, including allegations that stretch back to the height of his fame. He is also under investigation by the Metropolitan Police for a separate allegation.
Brand, however, has denied any wrongdoing and accuses the media of launching a coordinated attack against him for his outspoken criticism of governments and those in power.