Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Communications and Digital Committee publishes report on freedom of expression online
The Communications and Digital Committee publishes its report 'Freedom for all? Freedom of expression in the digital age'.
- Report: Freedom for all? Freedom of expression in the digital age (HTML)
- Report Freedom for all? Freedom of expression in the digital age (PDF)
- Inquiry: Freedom of expression online
- Communications and Digital Committee
The Committee says that the Government’s plans to address ‘legal but harmful’ online content threaten freedom of speech and would be ineffective. Instead, existing laws should be enforced properly and any serious harms not already illegal should be criminalised.
The Committee welcomes Online Safety Bill proposals to oblige digital platforms to remove illegal content and protect children from harm but warns that the draft legislation is “flawed” in relation to keeping children off porn sites and says that platforms must ensure they do not over-remove content.
Lord Gilbert of Panteg, Chair of the committee says:
“If the government believes that a type of content is sufficiently harmful, it should be criminalised.
“We would expect this to include, for example, any of the vile racist abuse directed at members of the England football team which isn’t already illegal. It has no place in our society and the full force of the law must be brought down on the perpetrators urgently.
“The right to speak your mind is the hallmark of a free society and a right long treasured in Britain but it isn’t an unfettered right.
“The rights and preferences of individuals must be at the heart of a new, joined-up regulatory approach, bringing together competition policy, data, design, law enforcement and the protection of children.
“Britain can be a world leader, setting standards to which other countries can aspire. We must get this right.”
Lord Gilbert adds:
“The benefits of freedom of expression online mustn’t be curtailed by companies such as Facebook and Google, too often guided by their commercial and political interests than the rights and wellbeing of their users.
“People have little choice but to use these platforms because of the lack of competition. Tougher regulation is long overdue and the government must urgently give the Digital Markets Unit the powers it needs to end these companies’ stranglehold.”
Latest News from
Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
Radical overhaul and new ambitious target needed to break down unacceptable employment barriers faced by disabled people, MPs say30/07/2021 15:33:00
DWP’s national programme for supporting disabled people to find and stay in work is not working and must instead be delivered at a local level as part of a renewed effort to break down unacceptable barriers disabled people face in the labour market, MPs say today.
Barriers holding back renewable energy in Wales must be urgently overcome30/07/2021 11:38:00
Clearer plans for job creation and ensuring communities benefit from the growth generated by renewable energy development, as well as overcoming infrastructure issues such as grid capacity, will be needed if Wales is to meet its renewable energy potential and maximise the opportunities offered by the shift to net zero.
MPs call on the Government to launch a nationwide campaign to get children active again29/07/2021 15:33:00
The Government must renew efforts to get people exercising, concludes a Report by the DCMS Committee, after indications that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused weight gain and a fall in activity levels in children.
Trust needed to overcome Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland impasse29/07/2021 11:38:00
The Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland has today published an introductory report on the operation of the Protocol.
Transport Committee: Charging an electric vehicle should be convenient, straightforward, and inexpensive; owners should not face a postcode lottery28/07/2021 11:10:00
A clear policy framework is essential to ensure that industry can deliver the vehicles and charging infrastructure required to deliver the Government’s ambition.
UK's battery strategy risks going flat, says Lords Committee27/07/2021 15:33:00
The Committee's report on batteries and fuel cells concludes that the Government's actions do not align with its ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and issues stark warnings about the future of the UK's automotive industry.
National register needed to prevent home educated children missing out on education, MPs say27/07/2021 13:33:00
More data must be collected and a national register must be established to ensure all children out of school get a suitable education, MPs say today.
Boost action and diplomacy to protect nature, Committee tell government27/07/2021 11:38:00
The Environment and Climate Change Committee yesterday published a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice setting out what they believe the Government should do to make COP15 – the United Nations Biodiversity Conference due to be hosted by China in October – a success and to combat the loss of biodiversity.
Report: Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Women in the Armed Forces from Recruitment to Civilian Life26/07/2021 15:33:00
The Defence Sub-Committee on Women in the Armed Forces publishes its report “Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Women in the Armed Forces from Recruitment to Civilian Life".