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Internet: Freedom of Expression

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 58720, tabled on 19 October 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what consideration he has given in the drafting of the Online Safety Bill to the case of Handyside v the United Kingdom (1976) which concluded that expressions that offend, shock, or disturb are protected under Article 10 (2) of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Answered on

27 October 2021

The draft Online Safety Bill delivers the government’s manifesto commitment to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online while defending free expression.

Regulation will not prevent adults from accessing or posting legal content, nor require companies to remove specific pieces of legal content. We recognise that adults have the right to upload and access content that some may find offensive or upsetting.

The largest and riskiest services will be required to set out their policies regarding content that is legal but harmful to adults and enforce these consistently. They will no longer be able to arbitrarily remove controversial viewpoints.

Users will have access to effective mechanisms to appeal content that is removed without good reason.

Our approach will empower adult users to keep themselves safe online, while ensuring children are protected and maintaining robust protections for freedom of expression.