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POSITIVE PROGRESS: Watford MP welcomes publication of draft bill promoting online safety

 Published on: 14th December 2021   |   By: News Bulletin   |   Category: Uncategorized

Watford MP Dean Russell has welcomed the publication of the Draft Online Safety Bill which would see tech platforms having a much stronger duty of care to protect users.

The report published by the Joint Committee contains a range of measures to ensure that large tech companies including Twitter, Facebook and TikTok abide by the law in the UK.

This ground-breaking and critical bill will put the responsibility firmly on internet service providers for the content that is being shared on their platforms, including for serious crimes like child abuse, fraud, racist abuse and the promotion of self-harm.

After the hearing the testimonials and considering hundreds of pages of written evidence, the committee concluded that big tech has failed its chance to self-regulate, Ofcom should set the standards for them to be held accountable, Online Safety Policies should be created and protections for freedom of expression.

The bill has also recommended that cyberflashing be made illegal, deliberately sending flashing images to people with photosensitive epilepsy and pornography sites will have legal duties to keep children off them regardless of whether they host user-to-user consent

Dean Russell MP commented: “I am proud to have played a role, alongside committee members, on the Draft Online Safety Bill. This piece of work is truly ground-breaking and will help everyone who uses social media going forward.

“The recommendations are strong, powerful, and direct and will make social media companies responsible and accountable, particularly to the most vulnerable members of society whilst ensuring freedom of speech.

“The committee have met on many of occasions since July, and I have probed the witnesses to ensure we have as much information as possible to consider before producing our final recommendations.”

Damian Collins MP, chair of the Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill, said: “The Committee were unanimous in their conclusion that we need to call time on the wild west online. What’s illegal offline should be regulated online. For too long, big tech has gotten away with being the land of the lawless. A lack of regulation online has left too many people vulnerable to abuse, fraud, violence and in some case even loss of life.

“The Committee have set out recommendations to bring more offences clearly within the scope of the Online Safety Bill, give Ofcom the power in law to set minimum safety standards for the services they will regulate, and to take enforcement action against companies if they don’t comply.

“The era of self-regulation for big tech has come to an end. The companies are clearly responsible for services they have designed and profit from and need to be held to account for the decisions they make.”

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