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NMA welcomes news exemption pledge for online safety law

Nadine DorriesThe News Media Association has welcomed a ministerial pledge to look at a full exemption for news publishers from the scope of the Online Safety Bill.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, pictured, made the pledge during a Draft Online Safety Bill oral evidence session yesterday.

It comes after the NMA, the trade body for the regional and national press, said last month it was “very concerned” about Boris Johnson’s plan to bring forward the bill’s second reading to before Christmas.

Owen Meredith, the organisation’s chief executive, had argued the law will mean American technology companies are “put in a position to decide what news the British public can read”.

The law would see Ofcom appointed as the regulator of social media sites and force social media firms to have a duty of care for their users.

The bill also proposes to fine platforms up to 10pc of their annual turnover or face having their services blocked if they fail to protect users and enforce their terms and conditions.

Welcoming the commitment by Ms Dorries, Owen said: said: “We welcome the commitment given by the Culture Secretary to look at a full exemption for news publishers from the scope of the Online Safety Bill, including a positive duty on platforms not to take down news publisher content.

“We believe that a full and robust exemption from the regime is the best way to balance the need to protect freedom of speech with the laudable objectives of the legislation to crack down on online harms propagated by the platforms.

“We look forward to working with Government on how the exemption can be most effectively drafted and implemented.”