Terrorism, child abuse, cyber bullying, hate speech. These are among a few types of harmful online activity that currently saturate the internet. But how can we challenge and limit such damaging online content, while still promoting an open internet? This is a question the government is currently trying to address through the much-awaited Online Safety Bill. But with the legislation likely to become law in the coming weeks, will the bill actually make the internet safer?
The bill is set to have global significance when it comes to regulation of the internet. Policy proposals include holding social media companies to account with a duty of care and positioning Ofcom as an independent internet regulator with the power to impose fines if sufficient action is not taken.
Does the bill strike the right balance between freedom of speech and online safety? Does it put an appropriate level of trust in social media companies? And is it clear enough on what is specifically illegal online, or could this pave the way for arbitrary censorship?
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As the UK considers its pandemic recovery, bold, fresh policy thinking is more urgent than ever. The New Statesman, Britain’s leading political weekly, has been at the forefront of policy debate since its founding in 1913.
Spotlight Debates is a new quarterly event series focused on some of the most challenging questions facing policymakers today. Featuring high-profile journalists, politicians and academics, the debates will gather thought leaders and decision makers for an evening of stimulating discussion and exclusive networking opportunities.