The government has amended the Internet Safety Bill to prevent digital platforms from removing news content without an appeals process.
The Internet Safety Bill is proposed legislation that would, among other things, give UK regulators the power to force social media firms to remove content deemed harmful.
However, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Nadine Dorries said journalistic content would be given extra protection.
Dorris said earlier this week that democracy “depends on people having access to high-quality journalism.”
“We’ve seen tech firms arbitrarily remove legitimate journalism with a complete lack of transparency, and this can seriously affect public discourse. These additional safeguards will prevent that from happening.”
Prior to the amendment, there were concerns that the Internet Safety Bill would harm free speech by encouraging online platforms to remove any content deemed controversial, regardless of its importance.
The Media Association, the news industry representative, backed the amendments, calling them “necessary to protect media freedom”.
NMA legal director Saira Tekin said the amendments would “ensure consumers have access to accurate, timely and reliable news and information online”.
Tekin added: “By ensuring that content from recognized news publishers cannot be arbitrarily removed by platforms, the Internet Safety Bill will help tackle the flow of misinformation and misinformation online.”
The Internet Safety Bill has been controversial since it was first introduced in Parliament in March this year. It has faced criticism that it is too broad and could lead to unintended consequences.
Its future faces fresh uncertainty following the resignation of Prime Minister Boris Johnson after more than 50 MPs left his government. This has raised concerns that policy and legislation will be delayed until a new Conservative Party leader is elected, or that some policies could be scrapped entirely under the new government.