Part 2: What harmful content or activity will the new regulatory framework apply to, and what action will companies need to take?
Consultation questions covered in Part 2:
What further steps could be taken to ensure the regulator will act in a targeted and proportionate manner?
In developing a definition for private communications, what criteria should be considered?
What channels or forums that can be considered private should be in scope of the regulatory framework? What specific requirements might be appropriate to apply to private channels and forums in order to tackle online harms?
- The legislation will set out a general definition of the harmful content and activity covered by the duty of care. This will include only content or activity which gives rise to a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to individuals, and which has a significant impact on users or others. A limited number of priority categories of harmful content, posing the greatest risk to individuals, will be set out in secondary legislation.
- All companies in scope will be required to understand the risk of harm to individuals on their services, and to put in place appropriate systems and processes to improve user safety and monitor their effectiveness. The legislation will not change companies’ liability for individual items of illegal content that meet the definition of harm. Instead it will require companies to ensure that their policies and processes are adequate to protect their users.
- Recognising the importance of freedom of expression, the government will establish differentiated obligations on companies in scope with regard to different categories of content and activity. Only a small number of high-risk, high-reach Category 1 services will have to address legal but harmful content and activity accessed by adults on their services.
- The regulator will issue codes of practice to outline the systems and processes that companies can adopt to fulfil the duty of care, including what measures are likely to be appropriate in the context of private communications. The government is publishing interim codes on terrorism and child exploitation and sexual abuse alongside this document.
- The duty of care will apply to disinformation and misinformation that could cause harm to individuals, such as anti-vaccination content. The legislation will introduce additional provisions targeted at building understanding and driving action to tackle disinformation and misinformation. These provisions will include an expert working group which will build consensus and technical knowledge on how to tackle disinformation and misinformation.