HomeInsightsGovernment responds to House of Lords Communications Committee’s report: Regulating in a digital world

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The Government says that the Committee’s recommendations are “closely aligned with the Government’s approach”, as set out in its Digital Charter.

The Government recognises that to achieve its aims of ensuring that the internet and digital technologies are safe, secure and used responsibly, expectations of behaviour will have to be shifted in some cases, new standards will need to be agreed, and in some cases the laws will need to be updated.

Where regulation is necessary, the Government says that it will ensure it is “well-targeted, proportionate and delivers a stable and predictable business environment for innovation to thrive”. It intends to develop its approach in collaboration with industry and international partners and ensure it is “coherent and easy to understand for citizens as well as businesses”.

Referring to its recently published Online Harms White Paper, the Government says that it recognises that illegal and unacceptable content and activity is widespread online, and that UK users are concerned. It recognises also that other online behaviours or content, even if they may not be illegal in all circumstances, can also cause serious harm.

To address these harms, the Government reminds readers that it is establishing a new statutory duty of care to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users online and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services. Compliance with this duty of care will be overseen and enforced by an independent regulator, which will implement, oversee and enforce the new regulatory framework.

The Government says that its proposals will also help companies to ensure the safety of users whilst promoting freedom of expression and other norms that underpin democratic society. For example, to ensure press freedom and editorial independence, journalistic or editorial content will not be affected by the regulatory framework the Government is putting in place.

Overall, the Government says that it will “continue to consider a full range of possible solutions, including domestic legal changes where necessary, to ensure the internet works for everyone”. To read the Government’s response in full, click here.