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Removing “Legal But Harmful” Provision Is Step Toward Fixing a Broken UK Online Safety Bill, Says Center for Data Innovation

November 3, 2022

LONDON—In response to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plans to eliminate provisions from the Online Safety Bill that compel high-risk online services to remove content that is “legal but harmful” to adults the Center for Data Innovation issued the following statement from Senior Policy Analyst Kir Nuthi:

I want to commend Prime Minister Sunak and his cabinet for committing to remove some of the worst provisions in the bill that would limit free expression. The requirements for certain online platforms to monitor and remove legal but harmful content were too broad and risked politicizing which content would be restricted in the UK. Removing this provision from the scope of the Online Safety Bill is a step toward protecting free expression.
Unfortunately, the Online Safety Bill still needs work. Until an amended Online Safety Bill protects encrypted communications, the Online Safety Bill will continue to be a broken piece of legislation. The Online Safety Bill needs to exclude encrypted communications and end-to-end encryption services to ensure UK users have a right to communicate using trusted, safe, and private channels online. Removing these protected communications from the scope of the bill will ensure the safety of vulnerable individuals who rely on these encrypted mediums to carry out journalism, activism, and other forms of work that bolster democracy, as well as the privacy of ordinary users.

For more on this issue, see the Center for Data Innovation’s report, which asked Parliament to better protect legal free expression:

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The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.

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