Online Safety Bill, Remaining Stages

The Online Safety Bill creates a number of duties for companies that host user-generated content to protect their users. However, the Bill has been watered down and weakened by the Government. The Bill no longer creates an obligation for websites to remove ‘legal but harmful’ material, which means children online can still be exposed to damaging material online.

New Clause 16 would have added an offence of encouraging or assisting self-harm. Suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged under 50 years and females aged under 35 years. I voted for the new clause, which was not passed, Ayes: 242 and Noes 308.

New Clause 17 would have introduced individual director liability for non-compliance. It would have enabled Ofcom to use enforcement sanctions direction against senior managers. I voted for the new clause, which was not passed, Ayes: 238 and Noes 311.

New Clause 28 would have created a new Advocacy Body to represent the interests of child users of regulated services. I voted for the new clause, which was not passed, Ayes: 240 and Noes 312.

Programme (No.4) Motion re-committed the Bill to a Public bill Committee. I voted against the motion, which was passed, Ayes: 314 and Noes 216.

The Online Safety Bill will now go back to committee stage, where new government amendments will be considered. 

Lucy Powell, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pointed out that the Bill was first mooted more than four years ago. The Government are now putting the entire Bill at risk, as it has already been carried over once. If it does not complete its passage before the end of this parliamentary Session, it will fall completely.