The UK’s online censorship bill, known as the Online Safety Bill, has been paused until there is a new Prime Minister in the fall. A new PM is expected to be announced in September.
The controversial bill, which was at the report stage, was expected to pass the House of Commons this month before going to the House of Lords.
The bill, which enabled the censorship of “legal but harmful” content, puts the responsibility on online platforms and gives media and communications regulator Ofcom the power to determine whether tech companies were following the rules. The fines for non-compliance would be 10% of the company’s global turnover or £18 million, whichever is greater.
The bill has now been put on hold until legislators come back from their summer break.
Kemi Badenoch, who is a contender to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, tweeted that the legislation was “in no fit state to become law.”
“If I’m elected prime minister I will ensure the bill doesn’t overreach. We should not be legislating for hurt feelings,” she added.
Badenoch is the only candidate to speak out against the bill. The others have expressed support.
CEO of campaign group Index on Censorship and former Labour MP, appreciated the delay.
“This is a fundamentally broken bill – the next prime minister needs a total rethink,” she said. “It would give tech executives like Nick Clegg and Mark Zuckerberg massive amounts of control over what we all can say online, would make the UK the first democracy in the world to break encrypted messaging apps, and it would make people who have experienced abuse online less safe by forcing platforms to delete vital evidence.”