Dr Talita Dias testifies before the UK Parliament on the Online Safety Bill

Just Speech
9 November, 2021

On 23 September 2021, Dr Talita Dias gave oral evidence on ‘online safety and online harms’ before the UK House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-Committee on Online Harms and Disinformation, alongside Lord Puttnam CBE (Chair of the Democracy and Digital Technologies Committee) and Professor Alan Renwick (University College London). The hearing focussed on the current draft of the UK Online Safety Bill, following a Sub-committee inquiry on the topic. In a landmark regulatory move, the Bill seeks to impose several duties of care on online user-to-user and search service providers operating in the UK. These include duties to minimise the presence and dissemination of illegal content, such as child pornography, terrorism and incitement to racial violence, along with other safety and transparency duties. In her written, oral and supplementary submissions, Dr Dias argued that while the regulation of online services is necessary and the Bill’s proposed duty of care model is a step in the right direction, important omissions remain and must be remedied before Parliamentary approval of the Bill. These include a clearer definition of both illegal and harmful content, a requirement to consider the context of speech acts, and stronger safeguards against violations of users’ freedom of expression.

The written submissions are available here and here.

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