Online Safety Bill pushed back until autumn

The Government’s Online Safety Bill has been delayed due to a lack of parliamentary time.

The Bill was expected to complete its final stages in the House of Commons next week, but has now been dropped from the Parliamentary timetable before it breaks for summer recess.

According to Government sources, the Bill is expected to be rescheduled for the autumn once a new Prime Minister comes to power.

Arbitrary censorship

The legislation forces pornography websites to implement age verification systems to stop under-18s from viewing explicit content. But the Bill also gives strong incentives for social media companies to restrict content which is ‘legal but harmful’ to adults and empowers Government ministers to decide what this covers.

The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly commented: “The Bill attempts to regulate social media content that the Government deems ‘harmful’ to adults even though it is perfectly legal. This dangerously vague approach risks arbitrarily censoring mainstream biblical teaching on sexual and medical ethics.

“Its scope should have been limited to uncontroversial and beneficial areas such as the long overdue protections for children from online pornography. These will now be delayed yet again.”

‘No fit state’

It has been reported that some of the Conservative leadership candidates are concerned about the dangers of regulating ‘legal but harmful’ material, indicating they could seek to remove some of the Bill’s controversial aspects on return.

Leadership contender Kemi Badenoch tweeted: “The Bill is in no fit state to become law”, concluding we “should not be legislating for hurt feelings”.

Ahead of yesterday’s announcement, an editorial in The Daily Telegraph called for the Bill to return to its “original aim of shielding young people from the pernicious impact of social media platforms”, saying “the real problem is that the legislation has expanded beyond what was intended, which was to protect children”.

It also highlighted the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s “urgent concerns” over the Bill’s effectiveness on tackling illegal content, as well as its inadequate free speech protections.


Last month, a respected think tank found the Online Safety Bill’s scope “breath-taking”, raising “significant issues for freedom of expression”.

‘An Unsafe Bill’, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), outlined the Bill’s impact on free speech, privacy and innovation.

The report found “a lack of evidence to justify the legislation, with respect to both the alleged prevalence of what the Bill treats as ‘harm’ and the link between the proposed measures and the desired objectives”.

Also see:


Online Safety Bill-style law poses threat to free speech in Canada

Lord Frost: ‘PM must prioritise an overhaul of the Online Safety Bill’

‘Online Safety Bill favours censorship over free speech’

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