I note the concerns raised with the draft Online Safety Bill and the measures it has in place to tackle misinformation, and how misinformation will be defined. As the internet becomes an increasingly integral part of our daily lives, I believe it is imperative that action is undertaken to ensure users are protected online from harmful activity and content.
As you are aware, in May 2021, the Government published the draft Online Safety Bill, which sets out new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online. Companies will have to enforce their promises to users, remove criminal content from their sites, and protect children from harmful content, including misinformation. The biggest companies will also have duties on legal content that may cause significant physical and psychological harm, including misinformation and disinformation such as anti-vaccination content and falsehoods about COVID-19.
I would like to reassure that work is being undertaken to ensure misinformation and disinformation is correctly defined and does not inhibit freedom of speech. Clause 98 of the draft Bill places an obligation on Ofcom, the UK’s independent communications regulator, to form an advisory committee on disinformation and misinformation. The Committee will be tasked with providing advice to Ofcom about how providers of regulated user-to-user services should deal with misinformation and disinformation on their services. Furthermore, the codes of practice, which outline the systems and processes that companies need to adopt to fulfil their duty of care will be consulted on by Ofcom, ensuring the measures are proportionate.