Truss says her government will proceed with Online Safety Bill but with ‘tweaks’

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Truss says her government will proceed with Online Safety Bill but with ‘tweaks’

Danny Stone, chief executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, welcomes PM's decision to proceed with Bill but says he hopes she will 'not seek to drastically alter' it

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Liz Truss responds to question on Online Safety Bill
Liz Truss responds to question on Online Safety Bill

Liz Truss has confirms the government will be “proceeding” with the Online Safety Bill – but has suggested “tweaks” may be needed to the proposals.

Asked by Tory MP Jeremy Wright whether she would commit “swifty” to “balanced, sensible regulation” the new Prime Minister spoke of the need to “protect people’s safety online.”

The Bill, which was originally unveiled as a way of protecting young people from harm on the internet, had also been hailed by ministers as a means to tackle antisemitic hate online.

Appearing at Prime Ministers Questions for the first time since becoming PM on Wednesday , Truss said:”I can assure my honourable friends that we will be proceeding with the Online Safety Bill.

“There are some issues that we need to deal with.

“What I want to make sure is that we protect the underage teens from harm, but we also want to make sure free speech is allowed.”

Truss then added:”So there may be some tweaks required.”

The PM’s spokesperson was later quizzed by journalists whether the tweaks may include the removal of the “legal but harmful” definition that has angered free speech advocates from the Bill.

There had been speculation that former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries had turned down the chance of staying in her role under the new PM as a result of moves to remove “legal but harmful” from the Bill.

But the spokesperson did not confirm this.

Danny Stone, chief executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust later told Jewish News:”I look forward to seeing the new PM’s proposals for the Online Safety Bill and was pleased to hear her confirming it will continue.

“It is legislation which has been debated and discussed over many years already and I hope she will consider the wide range of expertise and input it has already benefitted from and not seek to drastically alter a Bill which despite being imperfect was broadly supported by victims groups and industry stakeholders alike.”

Under Boris Johnson’s government ministers had promised “groundbreaking” legislation to clampdown on online hate, including the spread of anti-Jewish racism.

But the proposals have repeated been criticised by free speech campaigners, particularly over what behaviour can be defined as legal but harmful.

Earlier Truss had come face to face across the dispatch box with Labour leader Keir Starmer for her first PMQs as leader.

In a low-key affair the new PM performed creditably, sticking to the low tax pledges of her leadership campaign.

Starmer seemed keen to allow Truss to set out her position on tackling the energy and cost of living crisis.

It opened up clear ideological dividing lines between the pair with Truss declaring categorically that a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies, as favoured by Labour, would be wrong.

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