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MNHQ here: Breaking news on the Online Safety Bill

82 replies

JustineMumsnet · 18/03/2022 11:35

Hi all,

As you might have seen, yesterday the Government published the Online Safety Bill, a lengthy piece of legislation designed to tackle online abuse and harm.

Since proposals for the Bill were first introduced, we’ve been raising concerns with MPs and Ministers about how well-meaning but over-reaching legislation could affect sites like Mumsnet, and stop our users talking about the things that matter to them.

And, following our campaigning, we’re pleased to see that some welcome changes have been made to the Bill. Most notably, that sites like Mumsnet will no longer be able to be pressured into removing users’ posts by malicious complaints that say our content is psychologically harmful. Instead, Parliament will now establish what counts as ‘legal but harmful’ content.

But we’re still concerned about how the Bill could affect Mumsnet - and we’re particularly worried about what Parliament will designate as ‘legal but harmful’ content. There are thousands of conversations on Mumsnet every day where women reach out for support after experiencing sexual abuse, or discovering that their kids are struggling with self-harm or eating disorders. Our fear is that blanket definitions of subjects like these as ‘legal but harmful’ could force us to shut those conversations down, meaning that the incredible support that Mumsnet users offer each other in situations like these will be lost.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be talking to Ministers, MPs, Lords and other organisations who share our concerns about the Bill, and doing everything we can to make sure it doesn’t negatively affect Mumsnet users.

Please watch this space for further info - and to find out how you can help us keep the conversations that make Mumsnet so brilliant. You can also sign up to the campaigns mailing list and make sure you never miss an update.

Big thanks,
Justine

PS if you’d like to support our campaigning work, sign up to Mumsnet Premium here

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OvaHere · 18/03/2022 17:09

But we’re still concerned about how the Bill could affect Mumsnet - and we’re particularly worried about what Parliament will designate as ‘legal but harmful’ content.

Agree the devil will be in the detail. Thanks for keeping on top of developments.

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Olderbadger1 · 18/03/2022 19:37

Thank you Justine. Mumsnet is a vitally important space for these discussions.

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BoreOfWhabylon · 18/03/2022 20:32

Thank you Justine. Like many others, I'm particularly concerned about the possible impact on discussions in FWR re women's safe spaces and the safeguarding of children.

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Supersimkin2 · 18/03/2022 21:17

Well done - freedom of speech is a PITA and not exactly attractive for its instant profit, so thanks.

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WalrusSubmarine · 19/03/2022 00:57

Thanks Justine and all at MNHQ

Freedom of speech and Freedom to protest are so important.

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beastlyslumber · 19/03/2022 07:19

Yes, this bill is very sinister. Thanks for your campaigning, Justine Flowers

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fabricstash · 19/03/2022 07:35

Thank you for your campaigning. I have been on and off Mumsnet for 15 years and find it such a wonderful place for women to discuss everything

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MrsOvertonsWindow · 19/03/2022 07:42

Thank you Justine for raising the possible unintended consequences of bills like this and engaging with the government about this.
And just to state publicly - this is why I pay for Premium membership - because I know I'm supporting a rare online site where women's voices and views are centred. Flowers

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RedToothBrush · 19/03/2022 07:57

This is worrying.

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passlefast · 19/03/2022 09:14

Thank you, Mumsnet.

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Calyx72 · 19/03/2022 10:11

Another voice here asking that women be allowed (!) to speak freely, especially on FWR board, thanks Justine and Mumsnet users for this.

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Datun · 19/03/2022 11:16

Good to know that you're challenging the bill, Justine, and can see the consequences for this site.

I'm sure we are all pretty au fait now, with impulsive law making having far-reaching implications that need to be addressed.

Thanks for letting us know.

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BootsAndRoots · 19/03/2022 14:51

Some good news as this bill was becoming very slippery slope with a lot of bad amendments being added (such as "harmful" speech).

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Mummyoflittledragon · 19/03/2022 16:36

Jeepers. I had no idea. Thank you.

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thinkingaboutLangCleg · 19/03/2022 17:24

@MustardRaisin

Mumsnet seems to be a rare (lone?) space to discuss women's safeguarding issues. I'm sure it's a headache for moderation but I'm so grateful that Mumsnet allows these conversations to happen (and of course my fellow users for starting and having them). Sounds like these could be at risk if Mumsnet weren't feeding back accordingly, so thank you.

I agree. MumsNet is an essential service, well self-regulated, and it works.
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Thelnebriati · 19/03/2022 22:58

They said Brexit wouldnt affect human rights legislation, yet here we are.

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NotTerfNorCis · 20/03/2022 08:08

sites like Mumsnet will no longer be able to be pressured into removing users’ posts by malicious complaints that say our content is psychologically harmful.

That's good news. The psychological harm argument has been used a lot for political reasons.

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LittleEsme · 20/03/2022 11:26

Thank you @JustineMumsnet

I'm grateful to have this space to express myself, ask sometimes uncomfortable questions, and often receive uncomfortable answers. I feel I've learnt an awful lot and grown in ways that have really benefitted my day to day live and those around me. I'm not very sociable in real life, so conversing with others about diverse topics has been educating for me.

I believe my emotional intelligence has increased a massive amount and I owe a great deal of that to MN.

Thee freedom to discuss even the most uncomfortable of topics must be protected. Thank you for looking after this.

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LittleEsme · 20/03/2022 11:27

Sorry for the typos 🙈

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PrawnofthePatriarchy · 20/03/2022 11:46

Thank you Justine for raising the possible unintended consequences of bills like this and engaging with the government about this.
And just to state publicly - this is why I pay for Premium membership - because I know I'm supporting a rare online site where women's voices and views are centred.


This sums up my views. I was messaged asking why I paid for Premium and just waffled. Mumsnet has been fundamental to the grass roots feminism that has sprung up to defend our rights and I am profoundly grateful.

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ChristinaXYZ · 20/03/2022 12:43

Thank you. I am another who is grateful that the FWR board exists.

There is an interesting piece here on how the bill might impact free speech

www.spiked-online.com/2022/03/18/this-is-the-end-of-free-speech-online/

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Newrumpus · 20/03/2022 13:40

Legal but harmful is such a dangerous concept - not just in reference to free speech either.

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ScreamingBeans · 20/03/2022 22:56

If conversations are legal, they're none of the bloody government's business and shouldn't be the subject of legislation.

"Harmful" is too subjective a term for any legislation to be able to cover without giving the state far too much power.

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Supersimkin2 · 21/03/2022 09:18

Quite. Adultery, disinheritance, interpersonal exploitation, you name it, are all perfectly legal. Not everywhere, but fine in the UK.

Legal but harmful is a slippery slope to censorship, which is worse than all of these.

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leli · 21/03/2022 13:54

I signed up to Premium to support the campaigning.

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