Government white paper and consultation: Online harms

In April 2019, the government a published a white paper (pdf) which sets out a programme of action to tackle content or activity that:

  • Harms individual users, particularly children
  • Threatens our way of life, either by undermining national security, or by undermining our shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities to foster integration.

The government aims to create a new system of accountability and oversight for tech companies, moving far beyond self-regulation. A new regulatory framework for online safety will make clear companies’ responsibilities to keep UK users, particularly children, safer online with the most robust action to counter illegal content and activity.

This white paper poses a series of questions about the design of the new regulatory framework and non-legislative package.

Here are some of the questions:

  • This government has committed to annual transparency reporting. Beyond the measures set out in this white paper, should the government do more to build a culture of transparency, trust and accountability across industry and, if so, what?
  • What, if any, other measures should the government consider for users who wish to raise concerns about specific pieces of harmful content or activity, and/or breaches of the duty of care?
  • What role should parliament play in scrutinising the work of the regulator, including the development of codes of practice?
  • Are proposals for the online platforms and services in scope of the regulatory framework a suitable basis for an effective and proportionate approach?
  • In developing a definition for private communications, what criteria should be considered?

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