HomeInsightsNews Media Association welcomes Government announcement of press exemption within new communications offences to be included in Online Safety Bill

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In a statement to the House of Commons last week, the Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Chris Philp MP, said that the Government had accepted the Law Commission’s recommendation to include a press exemption within the new offences that will be added to the face of the Online Safety Bill (see here).

“We have also accepted the Law Commission’s recommendation to include a press exemption within the general harm-based communications offence and the knowingly false communications offence”, Mr Philp said.

Mr Philp also said: “Whilst we do not expect the new offences will capture communication made by the media, including this press exemption demonstrates the government’s commitment to upholding media freedom.”

The NMA legal director, Sayra Tekin, said: “The NMA provided the Law Commission with cross-industry evidence to make the case for a much-needed press exemption within these new offences.

“We are very pleased that the government has accepted their recommendation. A strong, robust and workable press exemption is necessary to ensure that journalists can continue to carry out their vital role effectively when these new offences come into force.

“Making the internet safer is a laudable objective. We are pleased that Ministers have achieved this while firmly safeguarding journalistic freedoms – a balance critical to maintain for a functioning democracy.”

While welcoming the exemption within these three new criminal offences, the NMA says that it continues to work with DCMS and Ministers to ensure the revised Online Safety Bill delivers on the recommendation in the Joint Committee’s report, strengthening the news publisher exemption to ensure it is robust, workable and watertight. To read the NMA’s announcement in full and for a link to Mr Philp’s Statement to the House, click here.

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