After six long years, the Online Safety Bill reached its final stages. I first started working on the issue of online safety in 2017 as a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. We held two detailed enquiries and produced two lengthy reports with a substantial number of recommendations for government about bringing regulation to the tech sector, for the first time.
As Shadow Secretary of State for DCMS for eighteen months, I led Labour’s response to the early scrutiny. The Bill was an opportunity to match the product safety approach of regulation in many other sectors of the economy to the tech sector, with the objective of a regulatory system not just for now, but fit for the future.
The government’s approach over those six years was lackadaisical, contradictory and halfhearted and we have ended up with legislation that could have been so much better. I’m relieved we have something on the statute book but it feels like a wasted opportunity.