Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill
Draft Online Safety Bill

Report of Session 2021-22 - published 14 December 2021 - HL Paper 129 - HC 609


1 Introduction

Background to the draft Bill

Conduct of our inquiry

Structure of this report

2 Objectives of the Online Safety Bill

Harms affecting children

Harms affecting adults

Societal harms

Factors exacerbating harms: business models and system design

The draft Bill

An overarching duty of care?

3 Societal harm and the role of platform design

Content and activity

Algorithmic design

Safety by design as a mitigation measure

Anonymity and traceability

Societal harm and the role of safety by design

4 Safety duties relating to adults

Illegal content and activity

Focus of the draft Bill

Duties to protect adults’ online safety

What lies outside “illegal content”

Content that is harmful to adults

Accessibility and consistency of terms and conditions

Online fraud

5 Protection of Children

Definition of content harmful to children

Alignment with the Age Appropriate Design Code

Age Assurance and verification

6 Scope of the draft Bill

Meaning of “regulated service”


Search engines

End-to-end encryption

Exclusion of paid-for advertising from scope

Economic harms

7 Freedom of speech requirements, journalism, and content of democratic importance

Freedom of expression: Clause 12

Journalism and content of democratic importance

8 Role of the regulator

The suitability of Ofcom as regulator

The powers of the regulator

Risk Assessments


Codes of Practice

Criminal liability

Secretary of State powers

Media Literacy

Use of technology warning notices

9 Transparency and oversight

Transparency for users

Access for independent researchers

Role and value of a Joint Committee on Digital Regulation

Protections for whistleblowers

10 Redress

Redress and reporting mechanisms for in-scope providers

External redress for individuals

Liability in the civil courts

Access to data in cases of bereavement

11 Conclusion

Conclusions and recommendations

Appendix 1: Case Studies

Appendix 2: Glossary

List of members and declarations of interest

Formal Minutes


Published written evidence

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