WQ85423 (e) Tabled on 08/06/2022

How is the Welsh Government engaging with the UK Government regarding the Online Safety Bill?

Answered by Minister for Social Justice | Answered on 14/06/2022

As a Government we are committed to keeping people safe whilst they are online. At a UK level the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) are leading on the UK wide draft Online Safety Bill which aims to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online while also ensuring that people can enjoy their right to freedom of expression.

While ‘internet services’ are a reserved matter for the UK Government, the safety and wellbeing of people online is a key priority for the Welsh Government. We firmly believe that safeguarding is a shared responsibility and welcome the duties placed upon online providers to take action to remove harmful content and strengthen protection against activities that threaten the safety of children and young people.

Welsh Government officials have had regular engagement with counterparts in DCMS both prior to, and following, the introduction of the Bill. This engagement has involved discussions in relation to the development of the Bill as well as consultation around priority offences for inclusion. Discussions have also been held with Ofcom as the regulator and we will continue to work closely with Ofcom in Wales as they develop the codes of practice.

Following publication of the draft Bill in May 2021, Welsh Government officials have been actively engaged with DCMS regarding the exemptions within the Bill which directly impact Wales. On 30 March the Welsh Government laid a Legislative Consent Memorandum on the Bill before the Senedd in respect of Clause 175(5) which confers a power on Welsh Ministers to amend a list of Welsh education and childcare providers (Part 2 of Schedule 1) that will be exempt from regulation under the Bill.

We continue to work closely with the UK Government during the Bill’s passage through Parliament.