Response to braverman

ORG has responded to Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s letter to Chief Constables in England and Wales on the police response to the harassment of Jewish people in the UK following the Hamas attack on Israel at the weekend.

ORG’s Executive Director, Jim Killock said:

“ORG condemns the harassment of Jewish people. Jewish people must be protected from any threats and must be able to feel safe. However, we are concerned that Suella Braverman’s letter represents political interference into policing, which could have consequences for the freedom of expression of people in the UK.

“We are particularly concerned about the consequences of such a letter when the Online Safety Bill is implemented. The Bill compels tech companies to prevent users from encountering illegal content, meaning they will have to use algorithms to scan posts before they are uploaded. A broad directive such as this could lead tech companies to remove any posts featuring a Palestinian flag, which could have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.”

Clause 9 of the Online Safety Bill places a duty on online platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to prevent users from encountering certain “illegal content”, which includes a wide range of terrorism offences in Schedule 5 and other offences specified in Schedule 7, which can be easily widened.

Offences that are regarded as “priorities” under the Bill in Schedule 5 for content to be removed include:

  1. publishing image of uniform of proscribed organisation
  2. arranging a meeting supportive of a proscribed organisation
  3. expressing an opinion or belief supportive of a proscribed organisation

In guidance published on, the Government has specified: “This is not just about removing existing illegal content, it is also about stopping it from appearing at all.” In order for this to happen, tech companies will have to use algorithms to scan content prior to it being posted. Algorithms inevitably make mistakes and companies are likely to err on the side of caution in order to avoid fines.

As a result, there is a significant risk that content relating to the events in Palestine could be regarded by automated moderation systems as potentially supportive of terrorism, and thus be removed companies seeking to comply with the Online Safety Bill / Act.


Final Bill: here See Schedules 5 and 7.

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