IMA responds to Online Safety Bill
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The Online Safety Bill would require social media platforms to regulate themselves, with an exemption for content posted by "recognised news publishers" but it excludes many independent, regulated news publishers and allows unregulated and potentially harmful publishers to benefit from the exemption.
In this Bill as it stands, “news publishers” are defined by having a UK address and a team of staff or contributors. Not every indie publication will have these.
We want to ensure all independently regulated media, including Impress-regulated publications, are protected and have access to the exemption, and that harmful publishers do not.
The Independent Media Association (IMA), along with Hacked Off, are deeply concerned about the recognised news publisher exemption proposed in the Online Safety Bill, which is currently before the House.
The Bill, as currently drafted, would require social media platforms to regulate themselves, with an exemption for content posted to social media by “recognised news publishers”. However, the definition of a "recognised news publisher" used in the Bill would exclude many independent, regulated news publishers, while allowing unregulated and potentially harmful publishers to benefit from the exemption.
We are particularly concerned that the Government has defined "news publisher" in a way that relies on arbitrary criteria such as having a UK address (c. 50(2)(e)) and a team of staff or contributors (c. 50(2)(a)(ii)). These criteria fail to take into account the important role that independent news publishers play in providing diverse and reliable news to the public.
Many independent news publishers work remotely, may be based abroad (while serving a UK audience), or are run by a single person (this is particularly often the case for hyperlocal publishers).
At the same time, the criteria as drafted are vulnerable to being exploited by outlets specialising in Kremlin-backed disinformation, openly racist blogs, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and many other harmful publishers.
We call on the Government - or Parliament, if the Government fails to do so - to amend these criteria to ensure that all independently regulated media, including Impress-regulated publications, are protected and have access to the exemption, and that harmful publishers do not.
This would ensure that independent, regulated news publishers are not unfairly excluded from the exemption, and would help to protect the public from misinformation, disinformation, and racially abusive content.
We strongly urge the Government to support this amendment and to ensure that the Online Safety Bill is fair and effective in protecting the public from harmful content on social media, while also protecting the freedom of the press - including the local and independent media, which is so vital to a thriving democracy.
– Tchiyiwe Thandiwe Chihana, Chairperson at the IMA
– Nathan Sparkes, Chief Executive at Hacked Off
– Jonathan Heawood, Executive Director at PINF
Further signatories may be added at a later date. Please check our website regularly for updates.
Awards and cash for independent newsrooms
IJ4EU’s Investigation Support scheme – Closes February 23, 2023.
European Local Cross-Border Journalism Fund – Closes March 16, 2023.
Aziz Foundation Scholarships Programme – Closes March 31, 2023.
DW Akademie – Closes March 31, 2023
Google Creative Lab 5 – Closes April 3, 2023.
IMA and PINF seek interest for independent media messaging campaign
Interested in helping us craft the messaging for a PR campaign for indie publishers?
The IMA and Public Interest News Foundation (PINF) are looking for a messaging expert to help us build support for the valuable work of independent news publishers across the UK. This is a paid opportunity.
Please send your expression of interest to email@example.com. We will initially ask for a number of pitches for this project, and we will pay £500 per pitch.
For more information on how you can get involved, click here.
The deadline for expressions of interest is close of play on 24 February 2023.
Meet our members
Gen Z Talks Magazine: The editors of Gen-Z Talks created this online magazine to provide Gen-Zs with a platform to engage in important dialogue. With a strong focus on issues surrounding race, gender, politics and migration, we aim to enlighten and educate other Gen-Zs, opening their minds to the realities of the world around them and equipping them with the tools and knowledge to become agents of social change.
African Voices Platform: Baillor discusses the genesis of African Voices Platform, their successes and how they are helping local people to become skilled in working within the independent media.
The Norwich Radical: Rowan discusses their genesis and purpose of The Norwich Radical as well as some of their successes since they began in 2014.
Our to-do list
In an effort to be transparent and accountable to both its members and the public, the IMA publishes a brief to-do list in this newsletter. This list allows the IMA to show the efforts it’s taking and the progress it’s making towards its objectives. In the coming two weeks, Thomas and I will be focusing on the following tasks:
Onboarding a flurry of new members. We’re currently at 70 (!!!) and we’re on track to hit 100 soon.
Continuing to publish content about the Online Safety Bill, with a blog post summarising our recent Twitter polls coming out next week. Stay tuned!
Minor tweaks to the new website, making it look 100% perfect.
Producing a series of interviews called Meet the Members - we have four lined up and one ready to release.
Producing resources around AI for Independent Media - again we have one piece ready to release.
We have come up with a clear and simple proposal for Trade Unions to support independent media by giving block grants to IMA members - we are now reaching out to Trade Union leadership and arranging meetings.
Supporting a collaborative project decided upon at the last General Meeting to encourage members to do content on workers rights and share together all throughout the last week of February.
Encourage all members to share content under the #IndyMEdia so we can build a hashtag that helps audiences find independent media .