'Online safety bill on hold at the expense of children, women and the vulnerable'

File photo dated 21/08/14 of a child using a laptop computer, as a "tsunami" of online child abuse i

The Online Safety Bill has been put on hold until a new prime minister is in place - Credit: PA

The government announced they were putting the landmark Online Safety Bill on hold until a new prime minister is in place.

This convenient decision taken by a crumbling government once again kicks online safety into the long grass at the expense of children, women and vulnerable people. 

With most of us now spending most of our lives on the internet, online safety has unequivocally become one of the most important issues of this generation. This can be seen in the notable increase in constituents reaching out to my office for support after suffering the inimical consequences of an unregulated online world. 

From record reports of child abuse, surges of racist tweets, disinformation campaigns, and soaring fraud and scams amounting to £2.3 billion lost in the UK last year, there are too many harms that, as a society, we have been unable or unwilling to address. 

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq

Tulip Siddiq will ensure that the Online Safety Bill is not forgotten - Credit: Office of Tulip Siddiq

Though the internet has transformed our lives for the better in so many ways, the lack of regulation has let harms and abuses proliferate.  

This is why I welcomed many of the provisions in the long-due Online Safety Bill, particularly the delegation of stronger powers for the independent regulator Ofcom, including the power to hold tech giants to account. 

However, I have stressed that regulation alone is not enough to reign in the excesses of big tech, so I have also been calling for fairer taxation on huge platforms such as Google and Facebook, which are thriving at the expense of many local businesses under the current system. 

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I also understand there has been concern about the implication of any regulatory action on freedom of speech and expression, and was pleased to see that this concern was raised throughout our scrutiny of the bill. However, the status quo is not satisfying any body and a balance must be struck that mirrors the same standards we all follow as individuals in the real world. 

By further delaying this bill and leaving its future uncertain, it seems this wild west will continue to reign online unchecked. As a result, social media companies will continue self-regulating and passing a blind eye to harmful content, tech companies will continue to get away with paying no tax, and people will continue losing money from cyber-crime and online scams. 

I therefore hope that the future Conservative leader and prime minister picks this matter up and delivers an online world that is safe for us and our children, and I will ensure I continue making this clear in Parliament. 

Tulip Siddiq is Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.