On 11 October 2017, the UK government published its Internet Safety Strategy green paper. The strategy paper launches a consultation process which will run through to early December and proposes a combination of codes of practice and ‘technological solutions’.
The paper follows recent pledges from Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DMCS) to make Britain ‘the safest place in the world to go online’ and the passing of the Digital Economy Act 2017. It also follows the recent communication from the European Commission, threatening further regulation to tackle illegal online content, which we discussed here.
The strategy paper focuses on three key principles:
- what is unacceptable offline should be unacceptable online;
- all users should be empowered to manage online risks and stay safe; and
- technology companies have a responsibility towards their users.
The strategy paper covers various aspects of online safety including:
- the introduction of a social media code of practice, transparency reporting and a social media levy (on social media companies to fund anti-abuse projects);
- technological solutions to online harms (including the Online Hate Crime Hub announced here);
- developing children’s digital literacy;
- support for parents and carers;
- adults’ experience of online abuse; and
- young people’s use of online dating websites and applications.
The strategy paper states it will form part of the Government’s Digital Charter, which is set to establish a new framework that balances freedom with protection for users. The DMCS has also published a literature review alongside the strategy paper, produced by the UK’s Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) Evidence Group (available here).
In relation to working with industry, the strategy paper states that it will:
- consider how the code can deliver the manifesto commitment of a reporting mechanism with a ‘comply or explain’ response;
- give effect to the manifesto’s commitment to introduce a ‘social media levy’; and
- question how the government can work closely with industry to produce an annual internet safety transparency report, which could include common metrics that would enable benchmarking of reporting mechanisms.
The Government is inviting responses from organisations and individuals to the strategy paper. The deadline for responses is 7 December, and the UK Government is expected to provide a response to the consultation in early 2018.
Responses to the strategy paper can be provided here.