Online Safety Bill

Earlier this year, the Society welcomed the announcement of tougher protections for journalism in the Online Safety Bill.

Announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in July, an amendment tabled by ministers will now see a new requirement for platforms to keep news articles up while under review by moderators as well as a requirement for platforms to notify news publishers and offer a right of appeal before taking any action. The Society of Editors has previously called for such safeguards to be included in the legislation.

Responding to the announcement, Dawn Alford, Executive Director of the Society of Editors said: “Since the publication of the Online Harms White Paper in 2019, the Society has called for broad and workable journalistic safeguards to be included on the face of online harms legislation. Today’s announcement of additional journalistic protections through a requirement for platforms to keep news articles online during any review process, notify publishers and offer them a right of appeal is welcome. These essential protections will ensure that the legislation better recognises the fast-paced nature of news and promotes transparency in the decision-making process of platforms.”

The amendment comes after media organisations, including the Society of Editors, expressed concern earlier this year upon the publication of the Bill that safeguards for journalists were not fit-for-purpose and that the Bill would likely lead to platforms being over-cautious in moderating news publishers’ content due to fear of sanctions by the regulator Ofcom.

In November 2022, the government announced that “harmful but legal” content requirements would be removed from the Online Safety Bill amid free speech concerns. The Bill is due to return to the Commons on Monday 5 December 2022.