Online Forums Bill published in advance of 2nd reading

November 22, 2018

An Online Forums Bill has been published in advance of a scheduled Second Reading on 23rd November.

The Bill is sponsored by Lucy Powell MP for Manchester Central. It was introduced into Parliament on 11 September under the Ten Minute Rule and is described as  

“A Bill to make administrators and moderators of certain online forums responsible for content published on those forums; to require such administrators and moderators to remove certain content; to require platforms to publish information about such forums; and for connected purposes.”

In short, if passed, the Bill will make it a criminal offence for a forum administrator to fail to remove illegal content where they have been notified or should reasonably have known that the content could be viewed. Illegal content is defined as “content which a reasonable person considers involves a breach of the criminal law of England and Wales”.

Administrators could also be jointly liable, alongside the person posting the content, for any subsequent damages and there are provisions relating to publication of information about a qualifying forum. Such information is to be specified the Secretary of State but must include the name of the forum and the number of members on a specified date.

As a Private Members’ Bill it is doubtful whether it will become law but we will monitor any developments.

The Bill and its progress can be followed on the Parliament website.