Online Harm UK Government Consultation

The UK Government is consulting on plans to regulate internet content producers and services, in the light of recent evidence of potential social harm that might affect vulnerable people, especially children. The consultation is open until the 1st July.

The government aims to identify how it can put in place a

Package of online safety measures that also supports innovation and a thriving digital economy. This package comprises legislative and non-legislative measures and will make companies more responsible for their users’ safety online, especially children and other vulnerable groups.

The White Paper proposes establishing a new duty of care in law for users of internet and digital media services, which will be overseen by an independent regulator.

Companies will be held to account for tackling a comprehensive set of online harms, ranging from illegal activity and content to behaviours which are harmful but not necessarily illegal.

This consultation aims to gather views on aspects of the government’s plans including:

  1. The online services in scope of the regulatory framework;
  2. Options for appointing an independent regulatory body to implement, oversee and enforce the new regulatory framework;
  3. The enforcement powers of an independent regulatory body; potential redress mechanisms for online users; and measures to ensure regulation is targeted and proportionate for industry.

This is an open public consultation. And the government are particularly encourage responses from organisations, companies and others with relevant views, insights or evidence.

It would be useful to collate some thoughts and concerns from community media groups, as this may potentially affect all operators in the UK media sector equally, regardless of your size and ability to manage regulatory processes.

While a community radio station is regulated by Ofcom for the content that is broadcast on air, this new regulator may play a similar role with online content, use of social media and use of forums, and so on.

There are some important issues that need to be balanced here, and the model that emerges from the consultation process may favour certain kinds of media organisations above others.

The CMA would like to submit a response based on the views of members and supporters. If there are any issues that you wish to highlight we can discuss them here or via private messaging.

Best wishes