Our campaigning resulted in the Online Safety Act in the UK

Posted on January 30, 2024 in Impact stories.

UK Parliament approved the Online Safety Bill

We campaigned for the UK Online Safety Bill (OSB) from the beginning. In September 2021, our CEO Imran Ahmed was the first witness to the Bill’s parliamentary pre-legislative committee. In October 2023, it became law. CCDH successfully secured two amendments to strengthen data access to researchers.

The campaign

 CCDH advocated for the Online Safety Bill from its conception. The OSB aimed to set the rules to regulate social media platforms and search engines, making the platforms legally responsible for the content they host. Our CEO Imran Ahmed was the first witness to the bill’s pre-legislative parliamentary committee in September 2021. 

CCDH campaigned for amendments to strengthen researchers’ access to platform data. CCDH and a coalition of online harms researchers wrote to the Secretary of State, urging her to amend the Bill to include stronger data access for researchers. As a result of our campaign, the UK Government amended the research-access provisions in July 2023, requiring the regulator to undertake a review and publish guidance to facilitate data access.

Success: The Online Safety Bill became law

CCDH has influenced the Online Safety Bill from its inception until it finally became law; our work with policymakers has built demand for social media reform globally.

  • The UK Parliament passed the Online Safety Bill in September 2023. In October, it was given Royal Assent and became law – the Online Safety Act. Even though the bill was modified from its original version, it is a huge step to end a long era of social media self-regulation in the UK. 
  • Ofcom is now the regulator responsible for online safety in the UK, and will ensure platforms enforce their own policies. 
  • CCDH successfully secured two amendments to strengthen data access to researchers.

Policy Impact

  • Served as the first witness to the Draft Committee in September 2021.
  • Delivered oral and written testimony to Bill committees between May 2022-June 2022, leading to seven citations during parliamentary debates 
  • Helped introduce the amendment for researcher access to data by Lord Bethell
  • Built a coalition with Reset.tech, Antisemitism Policy Trust, ISD, and other prominent CSOs to advocate for the amendment, winning coverage for our letter to the UK government in the Guardian at the peak of the debate in June 2023
  • Currently providing evidence for the UK communication regulator Ofcom for its implementation of the Bill’s proposed standards.
  • Imran Ahmed was one of the only stakeholders quoted by the Government in their press release.

Press Impact

  • BBC: Online Safety Bill: Crackdown on harmful social media content agreed
  • The Guardian: “Online safety bill: changes urged to allow access to social media data”
  • The Times: “Online Safety Bill approved by House of Lords”