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Shocking events in Washington demonstrate need for robust Online Harms Bill – Lord Puttnam

Commenting on yesterday's events at the Capitol in Washington, US Lord Puttnam, former Chair of the House of Lords Democracy and Digital Technologies Committee, said:

"Yesterday’s shocking events in Washington are a real world example of how online rhetoric can provoke dangerous real world actions. While I welcome moves from Twitter and Facebook to limit sharing of President Trump’s misleading comments on the recent US elections, it is too little too late. Disinformation about elections is still spreading across these platforms and has been for some time. It shouldn’t be left entirely to social media companies to set the parameters of their own rules.

“Governments everywhere need to fully understand the capacity of the online giants to amplify disinformation that poses an unambiguous threat to democratic institutions. The UK Government’s recent Online Harms White Paper failed to take up our Select Committee’s recommendation that “online platforms’ duty of care must extend to actions which undermine democracy. This means that the duty of care extends to preventing generic harm to our democracy, as well as against specific harm to an individual.”

"It is important the Government corrects that oversight before bringing forward the Online Harms Bill that Ofcom will hold online platforms accountable and impose meaningful fines for disinformation in content that they recommend to large audiences."

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