UK government has released a white paper on ‘online harms’. These new rules are aimed at limiting harmful online content. Developing a culture of transparency, trust and accountability will be a critical element of the new regulatory framework.
In this white paper, the UK government called for an internet regulator with the power to issue fine, to block access to websites if necessary, and to make individual executives legally liable for harmful content spread on their platforms.
The government will establish a new statutory duty of care to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services. Compliance with this duty of care will be overseen and enforced by an independent regulator.
Companies must fulfil their new legal duties. The regulator will set out how to do this in codes of practice. If companies want to fulfil these duties in a manner not set out in the codes, they will have to explain and justify to the regulator how their alternative approach will effectively deliver the same or greater level of impact.
The regulator will have the power to require annual transparency reports from companies in scope, outlining the prevalence of harmful content on their platforms and what measures they are taking to address this. These reports will be published online by the regulator, so that users and parents can make informed decisions about online use.
As per Online Harms White Paper, Tackling illegal and harmful content and activity online is one part of the UK’s wider mission to develop rules and norms for the internet, including protecting personal data, supporting competition in digital markets and promoting responsible digital design.