January 19, 2021

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Commons Consideration of Lords Amendments: Tuesday 19th January

Carnegie UK Trust supports the cross-party Kidron Amendment to the Trade Bill to require government not to sign trade deals that diminish protection of children.

The UK should go into negotiations backed by Parliament not to weaken child protection.

The UK is ahead of other countries in protecting children through regulating online harms – where Carnegie UK Trust has played a central role – and children’s data in the Age-Appropriate Design Code.

Companies with deep pockets can use trade agreements containing Investor-State Dispute Systems (that allow companies to seek compensation for changes in the law) to undermine confidence in the regulation of a fast-moving sector. The regulator has to move fast to match the threats – it should not have to think about the threat of international action.

The online harms regulatory process should be final and authoritative to regulate the world’s biggest companies, not second-guessed or chilled by a dispute resolution mechanism in a trade deal.

Some aspects of online harms regulation are acutely sensitive – as events in the USA testify. The USA has a track record of inserting its own protections for social media companies into trade deals that if applied in the UK would weaken public protection. Parliament’s resolve to protect children would give a strong platform for government to resist this in talks.