Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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MPs propose amendments to Online Safety Bill to ensure Ofcom independence

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has put forward amendments to the Government’s proposed online safety legislation. The changes would limit the powers of the Secretary of State to interfere in the work of the independent regulator Ofcom.

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The amendments to the Online Safety Bill, which will be tabled ahead of Report stage on 12 July, aim to safeguard the independence and integrity of Ofcom by removing the power of the Secretary of State to direct or block the regulator from issuing codes of practice to service providers before Parliament considers them.

Chair's comment

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:

“A free media depends on ensuring the regulator is free from the threat of day-to-day interference from the executive. The Government will still have an important role in setting the direction of travel, but Ofcom must not be constantly peering over its shoulder answering to the whims of a backseat-driving Secretary of State.”

The Committee carried out pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill before it was introduced to Parliament in March. The Committee welcomed changes to the Bill from its draft form but called for clarity on whether there were plans for a new joint committee to scrutinise the legislation. The Committee took further evidence on the Bill last month from academics and policy experts.

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