Amendment 4

Part of Online Safety Bill - Committee (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 25 April 2023.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Harding of Winscombe Baroness Harding of Winscombe Conservative 6:00, 25 April 2023

My Lords, this is not the first time in this Committee, and I suspect it will not be the last, when I rise to stand somewhere between my noble friend Lord Vaizey and the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron. I am very taken by her focus on risk assessments and by the passionate defences of Wikipedia that we have heard, which really are grounded in a sort of commoner’s risk assessment that we can all understand.

Although I have sympathy with the concerns of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, about small and medium-sized businesses being overburdened by regulation, I am less taken with the amendments on that subject precisely because small tech businesses become big tech businesses extremely quickly. It is worth pointing out that TikTok did not even exist when Parliament began debating this Bill. I wonder what our social media landscape would have been like if the Bill had existed in law before social media started. We as a country should want global tech companies to be born in the UK, but we want their founders—who, sadly, even today, are predominantly young white men who do not yet have children—to think carefully about the risks inherent in the services they are creating, and we know we need to do that at the beginning of those tech companies’ journeys, not once they have reached 1 million users a month.

While I have sympathy with the desire of the noble Baroness, Lady Fox, not to overburden, just as my noble friend Lord Vaizey has said, we should take our lead from the intervention of the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron: we need a risk assessment even for small and medium-sized businesses. It just needs to be a risk assessment that is fit for their size.