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Editors welcome Online Harms Bill exemption for news media

Ian Murray 2Editors have welcomed news media exemption for new government proposals to help protect people online.

The new Online Harms Bill is set to give broadcast watchdog Ofcom the ability to block access to online services that fail to do enough to protect children and other users.

The Society of Editors had campaigned throughout the consultations on the bill for news organisations to be exempt from the regulations because of their “high editorial standards and existing strong regulatory bodies”.

The new proposals also aim to ensure media content carried on social media sites will be exempt.

SoE executive director Ian Murray, pictured, said: “Throughout the consultations on the proposed Online Harms laws the Society of Editors and mainstream media have argued that with its adherence to high editorial standards and existing strong regulatory bodies there was no need to include the mainstream media in new regulations.

“We are pleased the government has recognised this fact.

“The mainstream media has campaigned strongly for protection for children and the vulnerable from harmful online content as well as combatting terrorist and criminal activities.

“It is gratifying to see these measures being proposed with online businesses and platforms required to have a ‘duty of care’ to protect children from cyberbullying, grooming and pornography.

“The government’s assurances that media content even when carried on social media platforms will be protected is welcome, however the devil will be in the detail

“The digital platforms when faced with huge fines for non-adherence to the new regulations may resort to the use of sweeping algorithms to remove content deemed as harmful. Such measures must have in-built protection for legitimate media content.”