Submission to the UK Online Harms White Paper consultation

The Online Harms White Paper is a wide-ranging, ambitious and systematic response to growing anxiety about online platforms’ handling of harmful and illegal content. However, commentators have raised a number of concerns about the Government’s proposals, highlighting potential unintended consequences and risks that may undermine the effectiveness of the proposed regulatory regime.

The complex challenges posed by online content regulation require a regulatory scalpel rather than a sledgehammer. Given the political sensitivities and implications for rights of regulation in this space, we suggest further work is needed to describe and consult on the regulatory regime before moving to legislation. The goal should be a framework that incentivises agile, balanced, accountable responses by companies to the particular problems each faces. Prescriptive, one-size-fits-all rules would make this harder rather than easier.

Our submission considers how such a framework may be developed to promote proportionate, effective regulation.