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The Draft Online Safety Bill and the regulation of hate speech: have we opened Pandora’s Box?

Coe, P. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6036-4127 (2022) The Draft Online Safety Bill and the regulation of hate speech: have we opened Pandora’s Box? Journal of Media Law. ISSN 1757-7632 (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

In thinking about the developing online harms regime (in the UK and elsewhere) it is forgivable to think only of how laws placing responsibility on social media platforms to prevent hate speech may benefit the public sphere. Despite this potential benefit these laws, and the responsibilities they place on platforms, could have insidious implications for free speech. By drawing on Germany’s Network Enforcement Act I investigate whether the increased prospect of liability, and the fines that may result from breaching the duty of care in the UK’s Online Safety Act - once it is in force - could result in platforms censoring more speech, but not necessarily hate speech, and using the imposed ‘responsibility’ as an excuse to censor speech that does not conform to their own ideological telos or commercial objectives. Thus, in drafting a Bill to protect the public from hate speech we may unintentionally open Pandora’s Box by giving platforms a de facto justification to take more ‘control of the message’.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:104913
Publisher:Routledge

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