Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb is calling on West Midlands residents to take part in a ‘call for evidence’ around new legislation to make the UK the world’s safest place to be online.
Suzanne is working on a cross-party committee looking at the draft Online Safety Bill ahead of it being presented to parliament in the autumn.
The committee has now asked members of the public and organisations to submit evidence and views on a series of topics the bill wants to address to improve the eventual legislation.
One example in the call for evidence asks: is it necessary to have an explicit definition and process for determining harm to children and adults in the Online Safety Bill, and what should it be?
Presently, the draft bill proposes a duty of care on social media companies, or other platforms that allow users to share and post material, to remove any harmful content. There is a focus on protecting children online.
Watchdog Ofcom could also have the power to fine companies up to £18 million, or 10% of their annual global turnover, whichever is higher, and block access to sites if their platforms fail to protect users from harmful content.
“This is ground-breaking legislation designed to protect everyone online from harm and abuse and give real teeth to regulators if this doesn’t happen,” said Suzanne.
“The Government believes the public supports greater protection from harmful online content, particularly for children, but everyone realises this is a complex issue that needs to balance such protections with freedom of expression, for example.
“I hope people and organisations across Stourbridge and the wider West Midlands will get involved in this important process. If they do so they are really helping the draft bill committee and, ultimately, such input will make for better legislation.”
Other areas the call for evidence wants to look at are: how has the shifting focus between ‘online harms’ and ‘online safety’ influenced the development of the new regime and draft Bill?
Does the draft Bill focus enough on the ways tech companies could be encouraged to consider safety and/or the risk of harm in platform design and the systems and processes that they put in place?
What are the key omissions to the draft Bill, such as a general safety duty or powers to deal with urgent security threats, and (how) could they be practically included without compromising rights such as freedom of expression?
Are there any contested inclusions, tensions or contradictions in the draft Bill that need to be more carefully considered before the final Bill is put to Parliament?
Submissions need to be given by the end of Friday 3rd September and address one of the areas mentioned.
People can submit their evidence to this link: Call for Evidence - Committees - UK Parliament