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Online Safety Bill

My response to the concerns about the Online Safety Bill and its contents

 

November 2022

Thank you for contacting me about the Online Safety Bill.

 

The Online Safety Bill, which will make the UK the safest place to go online, completed its first day of Report Stage in the House of Commons on 12 July.

 

I am glad that the Government strengthened the Online Safety Bill since it was first published in draft form. Most recent additions make better provision to ensure misinformation and disinformation is correctly defined and does not inhibit freedom of speech.

 

Some have raised concern about delay to the passing of the Online Safety Bill.

 

The Bill had been scheduled to complete its second and final day of Report Stage the following week. However, Parliamentary business changed due to a vote of confidence in the Government and, as a result, sadly the Report Stage was postponed. I share in disappointment that the Report Stage of the Bill was not completed before the summer recess, particularly when this legislation is vital to improve safety for children online.

 

Some have raised concerns about the removal of content on social media and provisions included in the bill to address this.

 

I appreciate concerns and the value of free and open speech.

 

The Bill strengthens people’s rights to express themselves freely online and ensures social media companies are not removing legal free speech. For the first time, users will have the right to appeal if they feel their post has been taken down unfairly. Furthermore, the Bill also puts requirements on social media firms to protect journalism and democratic political debate on their platforms.

 

Some have been in touch requesting that I call for the Online Safety Bill to be dropped.

 

I disagree with this position.

 

Recent research from Ipsos has shown that 7 in 10 adults want social media firms to do more to tackle harmful content and over 4 in 5 adults are concerned about harmful content online. There is a clear consensus from the public and from parents and guardians across the country that greater action needs to be taken to ensure safety for young and vulnerable people.

 

I look forward to the Bill returning to the Commons in due course.

 

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

 

Sir Peter Bottomley MP