Dame Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport and former Minister at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, spoke in the debate on the Online Safety Bill yesterday as it passed through the remaining stages in the House of Commons.
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. The legislation includes new sanctions which would allow the independent regulator, OFCOM, to fine social media companies up to 10% of their annual global turnover for the most serious offences.
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:
“As one of the relay of ministers who carried the baton of this legislation on its long journey, we are tantalisingly close to getting it over the finish line.”
“The priorities of this Bill must be to protect children, to root out illegal content and ensure the online platforms are simply doing what they say they are doing when it comes to the dangerous content on their sites.”
“If ever there was an example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, this is it. Right now we all need to get this done. The stakes- in human terms- simply couldn’t be higher.”
Speaking in the 3rd Reading of the debate, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Michelle Donelan MP said;
“I have been clear since becoming Secretary of State that protecting children is the very reason that this Bill exists, and the safety of every child up and down the UK has driven this legislation from the start. After years of inaction, we want to hold social media companies to account and make sure that they are keeping their promises to their own users and to parents.”
“Legislating online was never going to be easy, but it is necessary. It is necessary if we want to protect our values —the values that we protect in the real world every single day.”
“Every parent across the country will know at first hand just how difficult it is to shield their children from inappropriate material when social media giants consistently put profit above children’s safety. This legislation finally puts it right.”
Now that this ground-breaking legislation has passed through these key stages in the House of Commons, it will head to the Lords.
The Bill was a key manifesto pledge in 2019 and fulfils the governments ambition to make the United Kingdom the safest place in the world to be online