23rd March 2021: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

A question I asked on the subject of online harms in football:
Lord Faulkner of Worcester

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are planning to take to remove anonymity from persons who post racist and other similarly offensive material attacking (1) sportspeople, and (2) other high profile public figures, on social media sites.

Baroness Barran (Con)

My Lords, the Government are clear that being anonymous online does not give anyone the right to abuse others. We are taking steps through the online harms regulatory framework to ensure that online abuse is addressed, whether anonymous or not. The police already have a range of legal powers to identify individuals who attempt to use anonymity to escape sanctions for online abuse. We are working with law enforcement to review whether the current powers are sufficient to tackle illegal anonymous abuse online.

Lord Faulkner (Lab)

Can the noble Baroness be more specific about what the online safety Bill will achieve? Presumably, it will force social media companies to take down the racist and sexist rantings of some of their customers and lead to prosecutions where the abuse goes far beyond any free-speech justification. How much has happened since the Culture Secretary’s welcome statement on 8 February that those companies can start showing their duty of care to footballers today by weeding out racist abuse now, and will football be a specific priority in the hate crime unit looking at online discrimination against protected characteristics, as specified under the 2010 Equality Act?

A link to the complete Hansard here

A link to the Online Harms White Paper here