With the Online Safety Bill is back in parliament next week, Conservative rebels have picked an amendment to give Ofcom the powers prosecute social media executives – with jail time as a possible sentence – as their latest battle. When the amendment was put to Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan by the BBC’s Newscast, she said she was “not ruling out” any changes, adding she would take a “sensible approach”. Considering Labour and 36 Conservative MPs are backing the amendment, it’s not like she had much of a choice in the matter…
We then got a glimpse of what the bill might mean for debate on the internet. When asked whether Andrew Bridgen’s recent tweet – which Donelan implied was antisemitic – would be allowed, she responded:
“There is a triple shield of protection for adults under the bill now, so if it strays into illegal, which we know a lot of antisemitism can stray into, then it would go. If it is a breach of their terms and conditions, which all of the major platforms have antisemitism as a breach of terms and conditions, so it should have gone. The problem we’ve got at the moment is these platforms they play loose with their terms and conditions”
To paraphrase, the bill leaves it to Silicon Valley to decide which opinions are acceptable.