Online Safety Bill continues progress through Parliament

MPs to decide whether to support new duties to tackle online animal cruelty content.

The Online Safety Bill, which was first introduced by Government in March 2022, is due to complete its passage through the House of Lords this week and will be returned to the House of Commons for the final consideration of MPs.

Thanks to intense lobbying by Born Free and many of our partners at Wildlife and Countryside Link and the Asia for Animals Coalition, the House of Lords has proposed amendments to the Bill which would aim to tackle online animal cruelty, a horrific form of social media content that has been growing over recent years.

While the Government acknowledged the case for this, adding welcome measures to the Bill which will help prevent children from encountering online animal cruelty, the Lords voted through an amendment committing the Government to consider ordering social media companies to prevent animal torture content being available online at all, something that Born Free wholeheartedly supports.

Alongside our partners Born Free is urging the Government to retain the Lords amendments and pass the Bill into law as soon as possible.

Born Free’s Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones said: “As a veterinarian I’m deeply shocked by any act of animal cruelty, but the deliberate abuse of animals to provide content for online consumption and for profit reaches new depths of depravity.

“If such behaviour goes unchecked, there is a real danger that it will continue to escalate and that many more animals will suffer at the hands of some deeply disturbed people. Exposure to such content can also be extremely harmful, especially for young and/or impressionable people. It’s time for our Government to recognise this scourge and act to keep animals and people safe from online abuse.”

The Lords amendments are expected to be debated in the House of Commons in mid-September.