New report finds Online Safety Bill fails to "adequately protect freedom of expression"

A new report from the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has raised concerns that the Government's draft Online Safety Bill "neither adequately protects freedom of expression nor is clear and robust enough to tackle the various types of illegal and harmful content".

The report echoes concerns previously raised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), particularly around the approach of making individual directors personally liable for online harms, a move that the Institute warns may have the perverse effect of making prosecutions harder and less likely to succeed.

The Committee report - published yesterday - urges the Government to "provide greater clarity within the Bill on how and when these powers should be used to ensure they are both practical and proportionate".

CIPR President Rachel Roberts Chart.PR, MCIPR

This report raises serious concerns about the Online Safety Bill. It confirms our fears around enforcement but makes the wider point about its inability to protect freedom of expression or tackle illegal and harmful online content. Both could have worrying implications for communications professionals. The debate over whether legislation is required to address online harms has been won, so the job of the Bill is to bring forward workable solutions. We will wait to see how the government responds and encourage them to continue this discussion openly and transparently.

CIPR President Rachel Roberts Chart.PR, MCIPR

About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the world's only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas with nearly 10,000 members.

The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).