Online Safety Bill will be taken forward, Truss confirms

Out-Law News | 08 Sep 2022 | 1:21 pm | 1 min. read

New UK prime minister Liz Truss has confirmed that the Online Safety Bill will be taken forward in parliament.

The resignation of Boris Johnson as Conservative party leader in July, and the resultant leadership contest that followed, raised the prospect that the Online Safety Bill could be withdrawn. However, responding to a question from former digital minister Jeremy Wright in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Truss confirmed that the Bill has a future under her premiership but hinted that businesses can expect her government to make changes to the draft legislation that was introduced into parliament earlier this year.

“We will be proceeding with the Online Safety Bill,” Truss said. “There are some issues that we need to deal with. What I want to make sure is that we protect the under-18s from harm and that we also make sure free speech is allowed, so there may be some tweaks required, but certainly he is right that we need to protect people’s safety online.”

The Online Safety Bill introduced into parliament is wide-ranging and would, if given effect in its current form, impose extensive obligations on online services providers regarding illegal and harmful content that appears on their platforms. Experts at Pinsent Masons have previously expressed concern that the aims of the Bill – to reduce online harms – could be undermined by a lack of clarity over the way the legislation is to be implemented and enforced.

Some amendments to the original Bill have already been put forward by the government. Those amendments would require online service providers to consider “all relevant information that is reasonably available” to them when determining the status of content on their platforms – including whether it is illegal content and needs to be removed from their platforms.

The Bill is currently before the House of Commons for scrutiny. A third reading of the Bill in the House is anticipated before it goes before the House of Lords for further scrutiny and potential amendment. No date has yet been set for the third reading in the Commons.