Bishop of London asks about regulation of internet platforms based in other countries

On 8th April 2019 a Government statement on new proposals for online safety was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of London, Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, welcomed the proposals and asked a follow-up question about international cooperation:

The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I add my voice to those of my friends, the right reverend Prelates who sit on these Benches, who have welcomed this White Paper as a first step. Many of the platforms that would fall under the proposed regulator are based overseas. I hope that the proposals set out in the White Paper will give sufficient power to any regulator to hold these and future international companies to account.

Lord Ashton of Hyde: The right reverend Prelate is right that holding international companies to account is absolutely crucial, as I think I said before. There are limits to that, obviously, but some of the methods that we are consulting on—ultimately leading to closing the website down completely—are pretty serious, particularly for the large companies. We absolutely understand that. In addition, we want to continue to work with our international partners, such as the G7, the G20, and those countries that share our views on freedom of speech and on balancing that with controlling and dealing with the worst harms. We want a free and vibrant internet but we do not want the harms that go with it. I absolutely take this point, and we will listen to what people have to say about the correct means of holding international companies to account, but it is crucial that we are able to do that. I can tell noble Lords that we have now had 50 responses to the consultation.

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