The updated Online Safety Bill will make the UK ‘the safest place in the world for our children to go online’ while protecting freedom of expression, the secretary has said. Culture before the publication of the revised bill.
Scheduled to be published and presented to parliament on Thursday, Nadine Dorries said the online safety bills are now “top notch” following the addition of new measures after a period of review by the government, the deputies and peers.
Two separate parliamentary committee reports – along with a number of online safety campaigners – had called for major changes to be made to the bill to strengthen it and better protect internet users, especially children.
He beats the world. It is the world leader. The rest of the world is watching to see what we do and we will be the first to put in place regulations and legislation that will achieve this goal and hold those who run these online platforms criminally responsible and impose fines if they do not accept the legislation that we pass
Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary
Speaking to ITV’s This Morning, Ms Dorries told hosts Phillip Schofield and Josie Gibson: ‘It’s been a work in progress for five years and when I came to the department I realized that the Bill in the form it was in would just ‘t achieve the purpose and objectives. It just wasn’t fit for purpose.
“So we worked day and night for six months to get the bill to a place where it would actually make the internet the safest place in the world for our children in this country to go online.
“It’s a world record. It’s the world leader. The rest of the world is watching to see what we do and we will be the first to put in place regulations and legislation that will achieve this goal and keep those who run these online platforms criminally liable and to impose fines if they do not accept the legislation we are adopting.
The general objective of the bill is to require online platforms – where users interact with each other – to comply with a duty of care towards their users and remove content that is illegal or considered harmful under the new rules, with hefty fines and the prospect of blocked sites among the potential penalties.
The government has already confirmed a number of changes to the bill, including introducing fraudulent advertising, requiring sites hosting pornographic material to verify the age of their users and cracking down on anonymous accounts.
Ms Dorries has previously said that criminal liability for named officials of internet companies – as an additional penalty for failing to protect users – would be introduced sooner than the first draft suggested.
She said the algorithms that help decide what kind of content to show users based on their online habits would also come under closer scrutiny.
“It’s the algorithms that cause the harm, so this bill will force those platforms to expose those algorithms to our regulator so they can detect where the harm is happening and hold those platforms to account,” she said. told This Morning.
Asked about free speech concerns under the new rules, Ms Dorries said journalistic content would be protected “provided it is legal”.
“And if these platforms remove something – they have to tell that reporter that they’re about to remove that content, they have to say why, and they give the reporter the right to appeal – and the content stays online while it happens, so they have a process now,” she said.