GPD provides evidence to UK Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Expression Online

4 Feb 2021

GPD has provided evidence to a UK Parliamentary Committee inquiry into freedom of expression online, undertaken in the context of new government regulation of online platforms through a proposed Online Safety Bill, expected later this year. 

Our submission to the inquiry, which is led by the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, highlights the risks to freedom of expression online that stem from aspects of the government’s proposals, particularly around the model of a preventative “duty of care”, making online platforms arbiters of the legality of content; the new categorisation of “legal but harmful” content; increased pressure to use automated processes to identify and remove content; and the potential weakening of encryption  and other privacy-protecting tools.

Our submission argues that the existing intermediary liability framework should be maintained, and that any regulation should instead focus on greater transparency and consistency of online platforms’ content moderation policies, as well as strengthening users’ rights to challenge decisions.

Our written evidence follows the oral evidence to the Committee given by GPD’s Head of Legal, Richard Wingfield, in December 2020, alongside Mehwish Ansari of ARTICLE 19, and Ruth Smeeth of Index on Censorship.

You can watch the full evidence hearing here, and read the evidence we submitted to the Committee here.