Online Harms White Paper – how might charities be affected by the proposed new regulatory framework?

The UK is aiming to tackle illegal and undesirable online activity with a wide-ranging new legal duty. The duty is expected to apply to any organisation that provides services supporting the sharing of user-uploaded content, or services enabling online interaction, and non-compliance could lead to substantial fines and personal liability for executives.

A White Paper published by the Government in April setting out a proposed new regulatory framework for what are described as “online harms” expressly states that charities are to be included in the scope of the proposed new regulatory framework. The focus is on the types of service provided, rather than on the business model or sector.

The proposals for the new regulatory framework include a new statutory duty of care on organisations within the scope of the framework, an independent regulator with a significant range of penalties and enforcement powers, and codes of practice in relation to specific types of harm.

A lengthy list of activities described as “online harm” is included in the White Paper. Some activities are already well defined, but there are a number of other online harms identified which are currently less well defined – including harms such as cyberbullying and trolling, extremist content and activity, intimidation, and disinformation.

For more on the proposed new regulatory framework, and its possible impact on UK organisations, including charities, head over to our sister blog technology law update.

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