UKSIC warn Online Safety Bill could be “dropped entirely” if delays continue

02 Dec 2022 UK SIC

The UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) has expressed concerns over the future of the Online Safety Bill – saying it could be “dropped entirely” if delays persist.

The Government confirmed on Wednesday (30 November), via a Written Ministerial Statement that several clauses, relating to freedom of expression; user empowerment and age assurance, are going to be returned to Public Bill Committee for consideration – the first time in two decades that this has happened. It’s been said it’s because they want further scrutiny from the House of Commons.

A spokesperson for the UK Safer Internet Centre said: “The Online Safety Bill remains a severely complex issue and one that we must get right. We understand the importance for this legislation to be heavily scrutinised, but we are concerned further delays could lead to a point where we have no choice but to start again or see it dropped entirely – throwing years of hard work down the drain.

“People, including our children, are being targeted as we speak and it’s vital those in government remember the importance of keeping them safe online and that it remains the nucleus of the bill.

“These amendments by the Secretary of State require tremendous thought and tackle genuine concerns from the wider public but they substantially water down the Bill. For instance, the removal of impartial dispute resolution and the absence of legislation concerning legal but harmful content will drill a hole through the wall protecting our most vulnerable from online harms.

“These decisions could have a fatal impact with this legal but harmful content providing a real source of danger for those who come across it. In isolation, this type of messaging may not seem harmful but, due to the nature of internet algorithms, this unsafe content will continue to be pushed to the forefront of people’s timelines.

“We are against the clock and it’s imperative that we start progressing the Bill to get this regulation in place. We cannot allow it to fall by the wayside and be left as a regret. When looking at this, all we must ask ourselves is one question – what price are we willing to pay for the safety of ourselves and our children online?”

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