November 1, 2021
The NMA says that to ensure that the Online Safety Bill does not have adverse consequences for freedom of speech and the public right to know, it must receive proper Parliamentary scrutiny.
Responding to Boris Johnson’s announcement last week that the Online Safety Bill will have a second reading before Christmas, NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “This is vitally important legislation and there is an understandable desire for speed”.
However, he said, the NMA is “very concerned this may mean complex legislation with far-reaching consequences for freedom of speech and the public’s right to know does not get the proper Parliamentary scrutiny it needs”.
Mr Meredith said that not only does the draft legislation leave the definition of what is legal but harmful to the Home Secretary of the day, “without a comprehensive exemption for legitimate news publishers”, the US tech giants will be “put in a position to decide what news the British public can read in search and social media, and what they can’t”.
“The Parliamentary Joint Committee currently considering the draft Bill should be allowed to conclude its detailed work and the Government to respond”, Mr Meredith said.
The NMA believes that further scrutiny of the Bill is essential to ensure that provisions in the current drafting do not have a detrimental impact upon freedom of speech. To read the NMA’s news release in full, click here.