by David Bean

  • In this briefing we summarise the primary improvements the Countryside Alliance believes could be made to this Bill so that it can better address the issue of activist-motivated online bullying and harassment, and thereby better safeguard the mental health and general wellbeing of potential victims.
  • The False communications offence should be widened to include, first, financial harm and second, harm to the person or organisation (including a business) to whom or to which the information in it related, to address the issue of ideologically motivated false reviews of businesses and ‘false flag’ efforts to discredit organisations or individuals.
  • The interpretation of the communications offences should be broadened to include the incitement of others to online abuse, perhaps using language introduced in Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 to define the inchoate offence of incitement.
  • Schedule 4, which defines OFCOM’s objectives in setting out Codes of Practice for regulated user-to-user services, should be expended to require the body to consider the protection of individuals from communications offences committed by anonymous users.
  • Schedule 7 of the Bill should be expanded to include the new offences of Harmful communications, False communications and Threatening communications, listed in part 10, as priority offences for social media platforms to guard users against.

The Countryside Alliance briefing on the Remaining Stages of the Online Safety Bill, scheduled to begin on Tuesday 12 July, is available in full here. To help us campaign to end ideologically motivated abuse, please consider joining the Countryside Alliance today.

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