'That's Rubbish': Minister Clashes With Ed Balls Over Government Social Media Crackdown

Michelle Donelan hit out after the former Labour MP said the Online Safety Bill doesn't go far enough.
Michelle Donelan clashed with Ed Balls on Good Morning Britain.
Michelle Donelan clashed with Ed Balls on Good Morning Britain.
Good Morning Britain

A Tory minister clashed with Ed Balls this morning after he said the government’s long-awaited crackdown on tech giants doesn’t go far enough.

The former Labour shadow chancellor told science, innovation and technology secretary Michelle Donelan “nobody’s going to believe that you’re serious” unless the Online Safety Bill leads to “humungous” fines being handed down.

But the cabinet minister hit back: “Well that’s rubbish really, with respect, because what this piece of legislation is is it’s the most comprehensive piece of legislation in the world.”

Balls could then be heard saying: “Why was it rubbish?”

Donelan replied: “The sanctions are a massive deterrent. These companies are profit-making businesses, they don’t want to face these fines.”

But Balls hit back: “I’m not sure anybody’s going to believe you unless you act.”

Donelan said: “You don’t have to believe me, Ed. The proof’s in the pudding that the behaviour of social media companies is already changing and when this comes into force, this will offer parents that piece of mind to know that their children ... are being protected, that this government is making the UK the safest place in the world to be online.”

The bill, which has been in the pipeline for years, is designed to prevent young people from seeing harmful content such as hardcore pornography online.

Tech firm bosses face huge fines and even imprisonment if they fail to take the necessary steps to protect under-18s when they use the internet.


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