In April 2019, the UK Government published its Online Harms White Paper and launched a Consultation. In February 2020, the Government published its initial response to that Consultation. In its 15 December 2020 full response to the Online Harms White Paper Consultation, the Government outlined its vision for tackling harmful content online through a new regulatory framework, to be set out in a new Online Safety Bill (“OSB”).
This development comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of, and regulatory changes to, digital services and markets. Earlier this month, the UK Competition and Markets Authority published recommendations to the UK Government on the design and implementation of a new regulatory regime for digital markets (see our update here).
The UK Government is keen to ensure that policy initiatives in this sector are coordinated with similar legislation, including those in the US and the EU. The European Commission also published its proposal for a Digital Services Act on 15 December, proposing a somewhat similar system for regulating illegal online content that puts greater responsibilities on technology companies.
Key points of the UK Government’s plans for the OSB are set out below.