Policy Report –‘Making “Digital Streets” Safe? Progress on the Online Safety Bill’

At the time of writing this report, the House of Lords is debating the Online Safety Bill. This potentially landmark law would establish a regulatory framework for certain online services. These include major international companies which provide user-to-user services, such as Facebook (Meta), and search services, such as Google (Alphabet).

The UK Government’s dual aims in introducing the Online Safety Bill are ‘to make Britain the best place in the world to set up and run a digital business while simultaneously ensuring that Britain is the safest place in the world to be online.’

On 27 and 28 March 2023, the Information Law & Policy Centre (ILPC) (Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London) and its Director, Dr Nora Ni Loideain, co-hosted with Dr Edina Harbinja (Aston University) an international and multi-disciplinary conference. This event brought together experts from across academia, policymaking, and civil society to critically examine and discuss recent developments concerning the proposed Online Safety Bill. Panels addressed the development and future of these developments for regulation, policymaking, and governance within the UK and internationally.

The roundtable on Day 2 was co-hosted by Lord Colville of Culross. Lord Colville first got involved with the Bill in 2017 as a member of the Lords Communications and Digital Committee. He has put forward a number of amendments, including the amendment to reduce Secretary of State’s powers to direct Ofcom and amendments aimed at protecting free speech.

Read the full Report here.