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Topic for January 2022 - Online Safety

    • 128 posts
    January 10, 2022 5:42 PM GMT

    Our topic for January is The Online Safety Bill. An introduction to the topic and our proposed agenda is below:


    Introduction to the topic

    The BBC article Online Safety Bill: New offences and tighter rules - BBC News  is a useful starting point and recommended reading prior to the meeting.

    The draft Online Harms Bill was first published in May 2021, since then there have been consultations and a Joint Committee (House of Commons and Lords) review, resulting in some 127 recommendations for improvement. This lengthy document is available at Draft Online Safety Bill (parliament.uk). The 2 page summary at the beginning is worth reading and if you have the inclination and stamina a skim of the Conclusion (24 pages with the 127 recommendations).

    The online safety bill is regarded as a key step forward for democratic societies to bring accountability and responsibility to the internet.

    The joint committee sees their recommendations as strengthening two core principles of internet governance:

    that online services should be held accountable for the design and operation of their systems that they have created to make money for themselves

    and that regulation should be governed by a democratic legislature and an independent regulator—not Silicon Valley



    What are our feelings about an Online Harms Bill? Is it needed, is it overdue?

    • What harms are there?
    • What do we see as illegal and harmful content online? Do we agree children and adults should receive different levels of protection? What about emails and messaging?
    • What other categories of online harms do we think there are? Is the current bill broad enough?
    • What about risks from criminals, hostile Governments and mischievous/malicious persons?
    • Are there other potential technology harms in the future we ought to be catering for? What harms will get worse as technology develops e.g. effectiveness of fraud with AI and metaverse immersive harms?
    • Do we have views about encryption, micro-targeting of adverts and content, harmful algorithms and processes?

    What are our views about Safety v Freedoms

    • Would it be a problem that speech is less free online than offline?
    • What about safety v less privacy and dampening entrepreneurial activity – are these valid concerns?

    Do we have any specific concerns (that we have picked up from scanning the bill) about what is proposed in the bill plus committee recommendations?

    What specific Objectives would we set for an online safety bill?

    What are the lessons for future tech advances – can we legislate more generally rather than each time?

    • 128 posts
    January 27, 2022 10:20 AM GMT

    The output of our discussions on this topic is now available at Online Safety Bill - Proposals.

    We think the proposals in it are significant enough that we have turned it into a Considered Proposal and will endeavour to input it to those considering the bill.