Nearly six years ago, the Conservative Government promised that it would legislate to make the UK the safest country in the world to be online. Like many of its promises over the last thirteen years, it has failed. The Online Safety Bill has seen delay after delay, u-turns, watering down of key promises with many of the original proposals abandoned entirely.
The Bill has been central to the infighting and instability of successive Tory Governments, with four successive Prime Ministers too weak to show real leadership. Meanwhile, children and vulnerable adults have been victims of online predators, millions of people have been scammed online and still we have no robust protections in place.
I spent much of the period between 2017 and 2021 firstly as a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and then as Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for DCMS, presenting the evidence and making recommendations to the UK Government on the need for future proofed online safety legislation that was already urgent in 2017.
Throughout the past six years, Labour has made every attempt to work constructively across Parliament to strengthen the Bill so that people have real security, protection and safety online.
Labour has worked to:
I passionately believe it is the role of Government to ensure that regulation is in place to ensure that people are safe online. Companies that put digital products and platforms on the market must ensure that their products are safe and that any risks in using them are eliminated or properly mitigated. I see no reason why Government should take a different approach to product safety regulation in this sector of the economy, compared to any other like pharmaceuticals or manufacturing.
The Tory Government’s appalling handling of the Bill means that we still don’t have laws in place and every single day, real, tangible harm is happening to people. Self-regulation by the platforms has never worked and it never will. We need online safety law in place, right now.