PM under pressure to toughen up Online Safety Bill

MPs revolt over online safety law

More than 40 Tory MPs have joined a backbench rebellion over the Online Safety Bill, demanding that the proposed legislation goes further in protecting children.

An amendment to make social media bosses criminally liable and face prison if they fail to protect youngsters from harmful online content has been backed by 43 Conservative MPs.

In the bill’s current form, tech giants would instead face higher fines.

The changes, which are due to be considered by the Commons this week, would hand Ofcom extra powers to prosecute tech bosses.

The amendment is supported by Ian Russell, whose daughter Molly, 14, viewed thousands of images of self-harm and suicide on social media before taking her own life.

The prime minister is under pressure to allow the amends because the rebellion is enough to overturn his Commons majority. The Labour party has vowed to hand Rishi Sunak his first Commons defeat if he does not agree to toughen up the bill.

Children’s Commissioner for England Dame Rachel de Souza told The Telegraph: “We urgently need to hold tech companies to account so they step up and show some moral compass.”

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell told The Independent that Mr Sunak had failed to “read the room” by only threatening fines instead of ensuring chiefs face up to two years in jail if they fail to abide by new restrictions.

Culture secretary Michelle Donelan has said she is “not ruling out” changes before Tuesday’s crucial vote.

News from elsewhere this week:

More TikTokers are taking the stand on children they should’ve taken in the first place – Indy100

Is a self-harm game really being shown to kids on Roblox? – Snopes

Teaching online safety in schools – GOV.UK

Safe Gaming: What parents need to know – Psychology Today

What is YouTube Kids? Everything you need to know about the video platform for kids – Make Use Of

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