The DCMS minister for censorship, Caroline Dinenage and the Home Office minister in the House of Lords, Susan Williams were quizzed by Parliament's home affairs committee on the progress of the Online Harms Bill.
Caroline Dinenage in particular gave
the impression that the massive scope of the bill includes several issues that have not yet been fully thought through. The government does not yet seem able to provide a finalised timetable.
Dinenage told the home affairs committee that she could
not commit to introducing the new laws in Parliament in the current session. She said it was an aspiration or intention rather than a commitment as pledged by her predecessor.
She said the government's final consultation response outlining its plans
would not be published until probably in the Autumn, more than 18 months after the White Paper in 2019 and more than two and a half years since the green paper.
Julian Knight, Conservative chair of the culture committee, said:
If you don't do it it 2021, then it would have to go through the whole process and it could be 2023 before it is on the statute book with implementation in 2024. Given we have been working on this through the last Parliament, that is
not good enough.
The disinformation online about coronavirus underlines why we need this legislation. Unless we can get the architecture in place, we will see further instances of serious erosion of public trust and even damage to
the fabric of society.
Dinenage disclosed that the new internet censor, probably Ofcom, would initially be paid for by the taxpayer before shifting all funding to the tech industry.