The DCMS work on Internet safety primarily focused on 'legal but harmful' content and platform responsibilities and the legal regime which protects online publishers from immediate liability for their users' content. Work on specific illegal content has been handled by the Home Office.
Internet Safety Strategy green paper
DCMS published a Internet Safety Strategy green paper to define the direction of this work in October 2017. This had a number of proposals including a social media levy, but was not proposing major changes to law.
The Digital Economy Act 2017 included the creation of a voluntary social media code of practice. The contents of this code became incorporated in the consultation process.
Government Response to the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper
The government published its response to the Green Paper consultation. This included Draft code of practice for providers of online social media platforms and a Draft transparency reporting template.
The response signalled a change in policy, towards a focus on vulnerable groups, and on a new legislative framework to govern social media companies approach to harmful content.
Following the response to the Green Paper, a number of proposals have been advanced to influence the possible shape of a future Internet regulatory environment. In addition, a Lords inquiry into Internet regulation has produced many submissions and evidence.
These have advanced the idea of a social media or Internet regulator, and a possible duty of care to be placed on social media companies. Parliamentary committees have also advocated changes to the liability regime, to make platforms liable for the content published on their platforms. A significant feature of the debate has been suggestions that platforms should be treated as publishers, and that they are editorialising by prioritising certain kinds of content.
Some of the papers published include:
- A New Deal for Big Tech: Next-Generation Regulation Fit for the Internet Age from the Tony Blair Institute;
- Keeping Consumers Safe Online from Sky
- Perrin and Woods Duty of Care through the Carnegie Trust
- Regulating for Responsible Technology from DotEveryone
Additional papers that are relevant include:
An Online Harms white paper is expected in February 2019, originally expected in Autumn 2018.
- UK Council for Child Internet Safety
- Click Clever Click Safe: The first UK Child Internet Safety Strategy, DCSF, 2009-12-08
- UK Safer Internet Centre
- The Byron Review
- Digital Charter
- Government launches major new drive on internet safety., GOV.UK, 2017-02-27
- Internet Safety Strategy green paper, 2017-10-11