Written evidence submitted by Index on Censorship




Online Safety & Online Harms



Index on Censorship was launched on the pages of the Times by Stephen Spender in October 1971.  Our mission was, and remains, to be defenders of media, artistic and academic freedom throughout the world.  Shining a spotlight on those repressive regimes which seek to silence their citizens and publishing the works of those amazing and inspirational people who stand up against this tyranny. 


In our work supporting global free expression, we are very aware of the impact of the UK Parliament as exporters of legislation.  Setting the tone of the debate in other nation states.  This is most alarming when inadvertent restrictions on free speech and free expression emerge in a British context as repressive regimes then use this to justify more draconian measures.  Index believes that this is a genuine risk of this legislation.



Key responses

Is it necessary to have an explicit definition and process for determining harm to children and adults in the Online Safety Bill, and what should it be?




Does the draft Bill focus enough on the ways tech companies could be encouraged to consider safety and/or the risk of harm in platform design and the systems and processes that they put in place?




What are the key omissions to the draft Bill, such as a general safety duty or powers to deal with urgent security threats, and (how) could they be practically included without compromising rights such as freedom of expression?





What are the lessons that the Government should learn when directly comparing the draft Bill to existing and proposed legislation around the world?