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Minderoo Centre joins 16 other UK civil society organisations supporting data access amendment to the Online Safety Bill.

The Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy has joined Reset, NSPCC, 5Rights and other civil society organisations to support an amendment put forward by Lord Bethell and Lord Clement-Jones in the House of Lords that would increase and accelerate data access for accredited researchers and civil society organisations under provisions in the Online Safety Bill.

The amendment includes a series of changes to the Online Safety Bill which collectively improve transparency.

There are many areas of the Bill that this amendment would enhance. Child safety, illegal content, VAWG, the proliferation of racism, anti-semitism and Islamophobia, and the radicalisation journey of online users are all issues which will benefit first and foremost from greater transparency. Without more clarity about the scale and nature of these harms, we – civil society, academics, regulators and the government – are tackling unknowns. This amendment would shine light onto the social media ecosystem, tackling many other priority areas the Bill seeks to address.

In February, we signed an open letter organised by the Coalition for Independent Technology Research to ensure that APIs for studying public content on Twitter remain easily accessible for journalists, academics, and civil society. Twitter had announced that it will “no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both vs and v1. A basic tier will be available instead.” This move demonstrated how a platform which had previously been amongst the most transparent, could revoke access for trusted research organisations like ours, severely limiting the type of research we can conduct. Without mandatory and accelerated data access in the OSB, April 2023 researchers and civil society could instead see further erosion to data access over the coming years.

Last May also we joined more than 40 charities, online safety campaigners and academics in signing a letter to the Prime Minister and Culture Secretary, calling for verified researchers and civil society to be empowered to request data access under the Online Safety Bill.

Mandatory access for researchers and civil society is a critical aspect of platform accountability & transparency.

Read more about the campaign