Demos’ Evidence Submission to Parliamentary Committees on the Online Safety Bill

Platforms are not and should not be treated as ‘neutral’ entities, which passively host content that may be harmful. Platform design, platform systems and processes – from what users have the
powers to do on the service, to how content is curated, scaled, amplified, and recommended, to what data is collected about them and how it is used to shape their online experience, to the ways users are encouraged or nudged to behave: these affect the risk of harms that arise from what occurs in online spaces.

We believe the Online Safety Bill represents an unprecedented possibility to hold tech companies to account for harms which people face that are exacerbated or facilitated by their services: from protecting children to protecting those targeted by abuse and hate to  reducing the risks of dangerous misinformation – while also introducing oversight to ensure platforms are respecting people’s fundamental rights and not further entrenching the marginalisation of certain groups.  However, we are concerned that the Bill as currently drafted runs the risk of inefficacy on the one hand, and serious overreach and infringement of user rights on the other. We describe these risks and how they can be mitigated in our submissions to Parliamentary committees.

Read the submission to the Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill here.

Read the submission to the DCMS Subcommittee on Online Harms and Disinformation here.

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