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Online Harms White Paper April 2019 Bill Dutton

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A brief summary of the UK's Online Harms White Paper along with a few personal perspectives on the problems and risks of this approach.

Publicado en: Internet
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Online Harms White Paper April 2019 Bill Dutton

  1. 1. Online Harms White Paper April 2019 Bill Dutton 20 June 2019
  2. 2. The White Paper – a Consultation  Ambition for ‘global’ leadership to a ‘free, open and secure internet’ Preface: cyber harms and their regulation in the UK Outline 1. Problem: Illegal and ‘Unacceptable’ Content and Activity Online 2. Approach: a New Regulatory Framework 3. Implementation and a Regulator for Online Safety 4. Duty of Care 5. Technical Initiatives 6. Education and Awareness to Empower Users 7. Reactions and a Perspective
  3. 3. A Preliminary Note • UK Early to Block (Regulate) Content to Protect Children • Cleanfeed implemented by BT • Internet Watch Foundation’s Child Abuse Image Content List • Created in 2003, went live in 2004 • Establishment of Ofcom in 2003, December • statutory duty to represent the interests of citizens and consumers by promoting competition and protecting the public from harmful or offensive material • Regulation focused on TV and radio sectors, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, post, and mobile spectrum; not the Internet
  4. 4. Cyber Harms in Scope with a clear definition (Table 1) • Child sexual exploitation and abuse • Terrorist content and activity • Organized immigration crime • Modern slavery • Extreme pornography • Harrassment and cyberstalking • Hate crime • Encouraging and assisting suicide • Incitement to violence • Sale of illegal goods/services, such as drugs and weapons (on the open Internet) • Content illegally uploaded from prisons • Sexting of indecent images by under 18s (creating, possessing, copying or distributing indecent or sexual images of children and young people under the age of 18)
  5. 5. Cyber Harms in Scope with a less clear definition (Table 1) • Cyberbullying and trolling • Extermist content and activity • Coercive behaviour • Intimidation • Disinformation • Violent content • Advocacy of self-harm • Promotion of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  6. 6. Cyber Harms in Scope: Underage exposure to legal content (Table 1) • Children accessing pornography • Children accessing inappropriate material (including under 13s using social media and under 18s using dating apps; excessive screen time
  7. 7. Problem: Challenge Posed by Cyber Harms • A Huge Range of Harms • Avoiding Duplication: Cover Harms Not Already in Another Agency’s Scope, e.g., Information Commissioner, a new Mobile and Broadband Consumer Advocate? • Lack of a regulatory model for the Internet, comparable to those for the post, telecom, broadcasting, and news
  8. 8. Framework: Independent Regulator for Online Safety • Statutory Duty of Care: companies to take responsibility for safety of their users and tackling cyber harms (16) • Companies in ‘Scope’: those that ‘allow users to share or discover user-generated content or interact with each other online’ (29) • All have to fulfil their duty of care to ‘counter illegal content and activity’ (32) • Regulator with power to take action against companies that fail (19)
  9. 9. Technical Initiatives • ‘Safety technologies’: New tools to keep users safe online? (42) • Flagging suspicious content for users • Analogous to spam filters, anti-virus software of earlier years
  10. 10. Education and Awareness: Empowering Users • Users feel vulnerable online (46) • Government to develop an ‘online media literacy strategy’ (48)
  11. 11. Appendix: How to Respond to the Consultation • Web based questionnaire at • Email to • Write to Online Harms Team, DCMS, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ • Questions focused on honing the implementation and definition of key terms, such as defining ‘private communications’
  12. 12. Online Commentary on the White Paper • Magnet for those concerned over one or another online harm, whether disinformation or hate speech, to pile on • A number of problematic aspects of the proposal: • Precisely what will be regulated, given ambiguities • Monitoring of content: how? By whom? • Threats to privacy and freedom of expression, not only by civil liberties groups and NGOs • Relevance, even in the near-future, given pace of change online Recommend searching for posts, blogs, commentary on UK Online Harms White Paper – range of authorities, commentators, and publishers, such as MIT Technology Review, Wired, LSE Media Policy Project, RM, John Naughton, etc.
  13. 13. Points of Summary and Conclusion • Clear, well written and timely, but at the height of a dystopian climate • Focus on policy advocacy versus policy analysis • Focus on harms, with marginal consideration of benefits (1 box) • Very open ended, broad, expansive scope, limited to avoiding duplication with existing regulatory processes, such as data protection • No model for regulating the Internet and social media analogous to the press, post, telecom, or broadcasting • Platformisation has not only created major tech companies but also the opportunity for government regulation through companies rather than through Internet and social media regulation
  14. 14. Why? The Changing Internet Context • Rise of a Dystopian Climate of Opinion on the Internet & Social Media • Enduring concerns in UK over child protection exacerbated by new problems, screens • 2016 US Elections, and Brexit, Elections Across Europe • Utopian to ‘No Particular Importance’ to Dystopian Perspectives • Potentially inappropriate responses, and reduce skepticism of alarmist claims • A New Model for Regulating Companies v the Internet • End to End Internet: Lack of an Appropriate Model for Regulation • Platformisation of the Internet • Gift to regulators • Duty of care to regulate companies • International Cue-Taking on Control given Lack of a Regulatory Model • China • EU General Data Protection Regulation • Platformisation a way forward for politicians, regulators, and companies
  15. 15. Risks to be Considered: • Generate more fear, panic, undermining adoption & use of the Internet • Overly broad range of companies, targeting American tech giants? • Overly Broad and Open-Ended Range of Cyber Harms? • Ambiguity and Concern over Monitoring Content, facing a volume of instances that is an order of magnitude beyond traditional media and telecom, such as 300 hours of video posted on YouTube every minute • Incentivizing Companies to Over-Regulate Content & Activity? • Restrictions on anonymity, speech, and potential chilling effect on freedom of expression? • Requiring surveillance that could undermine privacy • Fragmentation of Internet Regulators: the new regulator, Ofcom, new consumer ‘champion’, ICO, and more?
  16. 16. Online Harms White Paper April 2019 Bill Dutton 20 June 2019