06 Feb 2019

GPD provides briefing to UK government on upcoming Online Harms White Paper

Global Partners Digital (GPD) has provided a briefing to the two UK government departments in charge of developing an Online Harms White Paper, due to be published later this month.

The development of the White Paper by the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport follows an earlier Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper in November 2017 and a government response in May 2018. It is expected to set out proposals for various legislative and non-legislative measures to tackle a range of online harms.

In the briefing, we set out our thoughts on some of the ideas being mooted in the White Paper, and offer recommendations to ensure that any final proposals are fully consistent with the UK’s obligations under international human rights law, particularly those related to freedom of expression. In particular, the briefing focuses on four key possible proposals targeted towards social media platforms:

  • a binding code of practice;
  • a new statutory “duty of care”;
  • a new regulatory body; and
  • mandatory transparency reporting requirements.

Many of these proposals pose real risks to the enjoyment and exercise of the right to freedom of expression online. In the briefing, we caution against their inclusion in the White Paper without further consideration as to how freedom of expression can be sufficiently protected, and make recommendations on how this could be achieved.

Along with many of our partners (see our joint statement from November 2018 here), we will be following the publication of the White Paper closely.

Read GPD’s briefing to the UK government here.