Article by Jim Norton for the Daily Mail - published 18 March 2022
Tech giants must not be allowed to become 'editor-in-chief of our free press', the chair of an influential parliamentary committee has warned.
Damian Collins MP yesterday added his voice to calls for stronger protections for recognised news publishers within the Online Safety Bill.
Platforms should not 'interfere' with legitimate news content by taking it down, he said, because by the time it is restored it would no longer be 'newsworthy'.
Nadine Dorries said the Bill - which was put before parliament yesterday - would be strengthened so that tech companies would have to notify publishers if they sought to remove any content.
The Culture Secretary said the measure - expected to be added as an amendment - would also ensure the content would remain online while it went through an appeals process.
Mr Collins was chair of the Joint Committee of MPs and peers from all the main political parties that scrutinised the Bill.
Its report recommended news publisher content 'should not be moderated, restricted, or removed' unless it clearly constituted a criminal offence.
Last night, he told the Daily Mail: 'The reason the Joint Committee recommended there should be a presumption news providers wouldn't be interfered with by platforms, is because news, by its very nature, is an immediate response to a fast moving situation.
'If news companies have to appeal against their stories being taken down, they will not be newsworthy as they are restored.
'As the Online Safety Bill goes through Parliament, the Government will have to explain how it will protect the integrity of content created by news media organisations.
'We cannot allow Big Tech to become the Editor-in-Chief of our Free Press..'
The Society of Editors has also echoed calls to strengthen the bill, urging the government to 'fulfil its manifesto pledge of defending freedom of expression'.
Warning the bill did not do enough in its present form to protect legitimate journalistic content, executive director Dawn Alford said: 'What we now need to see is additional safeguards to protect journalistic content from take-down by broad-brush algorithms and it is essential that any appeals process reflects the fast-paced nature of news.'
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee also called on Dorries to carry out her promise to toughen up the protections against censorship.