Hacked Off has revealed that Russian state-owned media outlet Russia Today is set to benefit from the “recognised news publisher” exemption in the Online Safety Bill. This exemption, which had been lobbied for by the national newspaper industry, has been criticised as unjustifiable and as bound to be exploited by extremists and agents of disinformation.
The exemption is so broad that even Russia Today, which has seen its broadcast licence revoked by OfCom, stands to benefit.
Hacked Off Chief Executive Nathan Sparkes said,
The press exemption in the Online Safety Bill is unjustified, poorly drafted, and a threat to the interests and the safety of the British public.
You might expect that national newspapers, from the Guardian to the Daily Mail, would be raising the alarm about this dangerous exemption. But they can’t because it was for their benefit, and their industry association has supported it every step of the way.
There is only one group of publishers which can claim a legitimate reason for an exemption under this bill, and it is those which are properly and independently regulated by a recognised regulator, IMPRESS.
Any attempt to give special treatment to others is unjustifiable and bound to be exploited by extremists and agents of disinformation.
The Government must decide whether it is on the side of Russia Today and the Daily Mail or that of the British public, who deserve to be able to use social media without encountering disinformation and other harmful content.
The story in full:
More information about the bill and Hacked Off’s position can be found here: