Dame Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, Chair of the Culture, Media & Sport Committee and former Minister for Digital & Culture, has urged social media companies to take action as the Online Safety Bill returns to the Commons.
The Online Safety Bill returned to the House of Commons to consider amendments from the House of Lords.
Caroline welcomed amendments to the Bill on violence against women and girls, protection of children, animal welfare, and changes to the categorisation of harm.
She also pointed out that, despite being the first country in the world to set out the ambitious target of comprehensive online safety legislation, other countries and the EU have passed legislation while the UK’s, more comprehensive legislation, is still being refined.
First introduced in the 2021-2022 Parliamentary Session, the passage of the Online Safety Bill has been marked by numerous delays. Caroline has previously spoken about the need to pass the act before the end of this Parliament in the Spring to avoid it being lost altogether.
Speaking in the debate, Caroline said:
“We were the first country to set out the ambitious target of comprehensive online protection legislation. Since then, so much time has passed. Other countries and the EU have legislated while we have refined, and in the meantime so much harm has been able to proliferate.
“We now need to get this done. We are so close to getting this legislation over the finish line.
“They [online providers] must not necessarily wait for this legislation to be in place, because people are suffering while the delays happen.”
Speaking after the debate, Caroline said:
“I’m pleased that this Bill is back to the Commons after a lengthy period of consideration in the Lords. It’s so important that the Online Safety Bill hits the statute books before Parliament dissolves later this year.
“This Bill has the potential to make the UK the safest place in the world to go on line, with the most powerful regulator, it really is world class. It will help clear illegal content from the internet and introduce much needed protections for children and other vulnerable people. I have no doubt that it will save lives.”
Caroline was the Digital Minister with responsibility for the Online Safety Bill from February 2020 to September 2021 who played a key role in its development. She spoke in favour of the Online Safety Bill, which provides crucial protections for online users, particularly children, including the removal of illegal content from online platforms.
She has served as the Chair of the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee since May 2023.