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Online Harms White Paper - indirect internet regulation & censorship

kat · 1 · 13839

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Offline kat

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The "Online Harms White Paper" [PDF] lays out the case by the UK Government for the legislative enforcement of a "Duty To Care" on all online service providers where users interact and/or receive service from or access to, a provider, the latter then having a 'duty to care' for users safety and well-being.

What is considered 'harmful'?
The list of 'harms' (cf. table 1 pg.34.) is not exhaustive (cf. 2.1/2.2) and is meant to compliment considerations covered under other legislation/law (cf. 2.3/2.4). The overall intent is to centralise or collate the regulation of certain types of activities or behaviours under one framework, making them an 'offense' subject to prosecution and/or fines.

In relation to the summary below, this means many aspects of current law may be subject to legislative oversight with respect to the 'harm' they may cause the individual and/or to the security of the UK (cf. 2.5) as outline/laid out in the white paper.
• This White Paper sets out government action to tackle online content or activity that harms individual users, particularly children, or threatens our way of life in the UK, either by undermining national security, or by reducing trust and undermining our shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities to foster integration. It sets out an initial list of content and behaviour which will be in scope, as well as a list of harms which will be excluded.

Who does this affect?
Anyone providing a 'service' that grants (public?) access to user-generated content and/or allows users to interact with one another, i.e. an online gaming or content creation community like KatsBits, is affected by the proposed legislation.
4 .1 [...]We propose that the regulatory framework should apply to companies that allow users to share or discover user-generated content, or interact with each other online.

4.3 A wide variety of organisations provide these services to users. This will mean that companies of all sizes will be in scope of the regulatory framework. The scope will include companies from a range of sectors, including social media companies, public discussion forums, retailers that allow users to review products online, along with non-profit organisations, file sharing sites and cloud hosting providers.
(emphasis added)