Clause 20 - Duties about freedom of expression and privacy

Part of Online Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:00 pm ar 13 Rhagfyr 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are putting in those protections, but we want companies to have due regard to freedom of speech.

I want to clarify a point that my hon. Friend made earlier about guidance to the new accountability, transparency and free speech duties. Companies will be free to set any terms of service that they want to, subject to their other legal obligations. That is related to the conversations that we have just been having. Those duties are there to properly enforce the terms of service, and not to remove content or ban users except in accordance with those terms. There will no platform risk assessments or codes of practices associated with those new duties. Instead, Ofcom will issue guidance on how companies can comply with their duties rather than codes of practice. That will focus on how companies set their terms of service, but companies will not be required to set terms directly for specific types of content or cover risks. I hope that is clear.

To answer the point made by the hon. Member for Pontypridd, I agree with the overall sentiment about how we need to protect freedom of expression.