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Tory peers, including former culture secretary Baroness Morgan, are pushing for the Online Safety Bill to include a code of practice that will require online platforms to crack down on misogyny and online abuse, and violence against girls and women.
According to The Telegraph, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan agrees with the peers.
“Michelle completely agrees with what the peers are saying, but this is stuff that the Bill is already doing,” a government source told the paper.
As it is, the online censorship bill, dubbed the “Online Safety Bill” requires social media platforms to strictly follow their terms and conditions, which generally ban misogyny.
Failure to enforce their policies would result in hefty fines. Platforms would also be required to provide users with tools that would allow women to filter misogynistic content and comments.
However, some Tory peers, including Baronesses Morgan, Newlove, and Bertin, feel the bill should go further to include a code of practice that would outlaw online misogyny. The amendment has been proposed in response to the Conservative government’s decision to remove a provision in the bill that would have cracked down on “legal but harmful” content, following pushback that it would undermine freedom of speech.
Arguing for the proposed amendment, Baroness Morgan said: “What about the right to access and participation online without being abused and harassed?
“There are going to be some specific criminal offenses in the Bill, but they don’t address the misogyny that has grown up not just on small high harm platforms but right the way across mainstream platforms.
“It’s things like threats of rape, death threats, very much directed at women because they are women and girls. It’s designed to drive women off platforms. They don’t necessarily break the illegal threshold, but it all goes to making a space where women are deliberately made to feel uncomfortable.”
However, threats of rape and death threats are already illegal.