Clause 20 - Duties about freedom of expression and privacy

Part of Online Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 13 December 2022.

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Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 4:00, 13 December 2022

I endorse the general approach set out by the hon. Member for Pontypridd. We do not want to define freedom of speech based on a personal poll carried out on one platform. That is exactly why we are enshrining it in this ground-breaking Bill.

We want to get the balance right. I have talked about the protections for children. We also want to protect adults and give them the power to understand the platforms they are on and the risks involved, while having regard for freedom of expression and privacy. That is a wider approach than one man’s Twitter feed. These clauses are important to ensure that the service providers interpret and implement their safety duties in a proportionate way that limits negative impact on users’ rights to freedom of expression. However, they also have to have regard to the wider definition of freedom of expression, while protecting users, which the rest of the Bill covers in a proportionate way.