The Home Office and Department of Media, Culture and Sport have jointly published an Online Harms White Paper
The Home Office and Department of Media, Culture and Sport have jointly published an Online Harms White Paper for consultation. In summary, the proposals are that social media companies and tech firms will be required by law to protect their users. If they do not comply, they will face tough penalties. An independent regulator will be introduced.
The consultation seeks views on various aspects of the government’s plans for regulation and tackling online harms, including:
The aim is that a range of harms will be tackled as part of the measures outlined in the White Paper, including inciting violence and violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children gaining access to inappropriate material. The press release includes an illustrative, but not exhaustive, table of the harms covered. There will be requirements for companies to take tougher action to ensure they tackle terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse content.
The proposed laws will apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user-generated content or interact with each other online. This means a wide range of companies of all sizes are in scope, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines.
Measures set out in the White Paper include:
Alongside the White Paper, the UK government has also published an updated Digital Charter and so-called RESIST toolkit, which enables organisations to develop a strategic counter-disinformation capability. The toolkit is primarily a resource for public service communications teams and it equips people with the knowledge and skills to identify, assess and respond to disinformation.
The consultation ends on 1 July 2019.