Online Safety Bill Inadequate for Tackling Harmful Content – MPs

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Feb 21, 2022

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British MPs warn that the newly drafted Online Safety Bill will not block some forms of illegal and harmful content.

“A Missed Opportunity”

A House of Commons committee says that the new legislation will not do enough to prevent the sharing of “insidious” content. The Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee is tasked with reviewing a draft of the government’s new bill. It warned that the proposed legislation is not clear or robust enough.

The bill seeks to, among other things, ensure that children won’t see harmful content. Parental control tools can be effective, but the Commons’ DCMS committee wants more.

In a report published on Monday, the committee called the bill a “missed opportunity.” It asked the government to reframe its definition of illegal content. It also called for an address of technically legal content, such as deepfake pornography and “breadcrumbing”.

“In its current form what should be world-leading landmark legislation instead represents a missed opportunity,” said Julian Knight, the committee’s chair. 

“The Online Safety Bill neither protects freedom of expression nor is it clear nor robust enough to tackle illegal and harmful online content. Urgency is required to ensure that some of the most pernicious forms of child sexual abuse do not evade detection because of a failure in the online safety law.”

But the Government Disagrees

In response to the Common’s committee’s report, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport failed to agree. Instead, it says the new bill will make the UK the safest online space.

According to a spokesperson for the DCMS: “We do not agree with the criticism of the committee. The bill has strict measures. For exapmple, a duty of care has to stamp out child sexual abuse, grooming, and illegal and harmful content.

“The bill will make the UK the safest place to go online while protecting freedom of speech.”

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Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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