Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:50 am on 27th January 2022.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs) 11:50 am, 27th January 2022

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his statement. I am very glad to hear him acknowledge the importance of protecting freedom of expression, but there is also the issue of anti-discrimination law. On a number of occasions in this Chamber, I have raised the problem that Twitter’s hateful conduct policy and its moderation policy often discriminate against women by taking down women’s tweets when they state biological facts and failing to take down abusive and violent tweets directed at women. The reason for that being that Twitter does not have sex as a protected characteristic in its hateful conduct policy. This was raised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in a report a couple of years ago, in which we recommended that Twitter should include sex as a protected characteristic in its hateful conduct policy.

From my inquiries, it seems that Twitter thinks it is above the domestic law of the United Kingdom when it comes to anti-discrimination law, and it seems to be praying in aid a loophole in the Equality Act 2010. I am not sure it is right about that legally, but does the hon. Gentleman agree with me that, if there is a loophole in the Equality Act that is letting Twitter off the hook when it comes to our anti-discrimination law, the Online Safety Bill would be a good opportunity to close that loophole, so that Twitter and other service providers are all subject to the anti-discrimination law of the United Kingdom?