November 2022

Provisional date set for debate of Online Safety Bill

The Molly Rose Foundation (MRF) has welcomed the Online Safety Bill’s return to the government’s legislative programme next month.

The remaining stages of the Bill are due to be provisionally debated on Monday, December 5, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt announced on Thursday.

More than four years in the making, the Bill in its current form would require social media and other platforms to protect their users from harmful content, with large fines and the threat of having their site blocked if they were found to breach the new rules. It will be overseen by Ofcom.

The Bill was delayed during the Tory leadership race in the summer for the new Prime Minister to take on and has been pushed back under both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.

Speaking on behalf of the MRF, Ian Russell said: “We welcome the Online Safety Bill’s December 5 return to the governments legislative programme.

“It is vital to move forward with the Bill’s delayed third reading and not send it back to the committee stage, in order to allow sufficient time for scrutiny and debate in the Lords.”

The news comes in the same week that Baroness Beeban Kidron announced she will table amendments in the House of Lords that would help bereaved parents access data about their child’s social media activity, which could shed more light on their deaths.

Baroness Kidron, who is a child online safety campaigner and cross bench peer, said the amendments aim to avoid a repeat of the the five-year wait Molly Russell’s family had for her case to reach an inquest due to delays over accessing large amounts of data linked to her social media accounts and online activity.

Russell said: “Having lived through this with Molly’s inquest, this is something we feel strongly about as a family and it fulfils our MRF purpose to provide support to bereaved families, friends and peer groups of young people after a suicide.”

He told the Telegraph: “A more compassionate, efficient and speedy process is required to meet the needs of families and the authorities.

“On many occasions, it would have been easy for us to give up and accept little or no digital evidence would be provided. Instead, with the support of many, we resolved to keep pushing for the data required to learn lessons, improve online safety and save lives.”

If you’re struggling just text MRF to 85258 so you can speak to a trained volunteer from Shout, the UK’s Crisis Text Line service

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