Thursday, 28 November 2019
Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment
On 4 March 2019 I launched a public consultation seeking views on the content of the proposed Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill. The public consultation closed on 15 April 2019. A wide range of responses were received to the consultation from members of the public, NGOs, industry and government agencies. These responses, which were published on 27 June 2019, are currently being considered to inform the development of the Bill. Furthermore, a thematic analysis of the submissions identifying key themes and issues was published on 25 July 2019.
This legislation will set a clear expectation for online platforms to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the users of their service. A regulator, an Online Safety Commissioner, as part of a wider Media Commission, would oversee the new system.
This new regulatory system will address the proliferation of harmful online content, including cyberbullying material, material promoting suicide and self-harm and material promoting eating disorders, alongside the design and processes adopted by online services which lead to the proliferation of such material.
The regulator will have a number of significant compliance and enforcement powers, including the power to audit the compliance of services, publication of the fact of non-compliance, the power to issue administrative fines and the power to block offending services in certain cases.
My officials are currently pursuing an extensive programme of policy analysis to inform decision making around preparatory heads of the Bill. I intend to bring the draft heads to Government by end-2019.
While it would be impossible to protect people from every danger online, this Bill will ensure, for the first time, that robust regulation is in place and end the era of self-regulation by online platforms.