Looking for help with the Online Safety Act - Ofcom consultations? Please get in touch. 

Policy matters

Policy does matter. We may think that the Internet is a free digital environment, where no laws apply but there are many cases which contradict this notion.

In this section of Iptegrity.com, I  report on EU policy related to the Internet and online content, in particular, where policy intiatives affect   access to film, music and television, and I highlight issues for the  policy debate in relation to the Internet.  For 2008-2009, copyright enforcement has been the hot topic, with net neutrality emerging as well, in 2009.   My focus is on the European Union and  its member states - for example,  I am currently covering Internet  policy - specifically copyright enforcement intiatives - in France and the UK.

I am most interested in the citizen's perspective. However, the issues I cover will affect the Internet and telecoms industries, as well as the media and entertainment industries.  

Iptegrity.com offers  original reporting from the EU, as well as comment and opinion on issues raised in other media, including non-English language media in Europe. Iptegrity.com is the main English-language news source for the Telecoms Package review of EU telecoms law.

TL;DR A puzzling feature of the UK Online Safety Bill is the special protection it gives to 'content of democratic importance'. It asks the large online platforms to give special treatment to such content, in cases where they are taking a decision to remove the content or restrict the user who posted it. However, the term appears to have been coined by the government for the purpose of this Bill, and what it means is not clear. There is no statement of the policy issue that it is trying to address. That makes it very difficult for online platforms to code for this requirement.

Read more: What is content of democratic importance?

TL;DR The UK government's Online Safety Bill creates a double standard for freedom of expression that protects large media empires and leaves ordinary citizens exposed. It grants special treatment to the large news publishers and broadcasters, who get a carve out from the measures in the Bill so that headlines like the notorious "Enemies of the People" get special protection from the automated content moderation systems. They even get a VIP lane to complain. Foreign disinformation channels would also benefit from this carve-out, including Russia Today. Content posted by ordinary British people could be arbitrarily taken down.

Read more: Online Safety Bill: One rule for them and another for us

TL;DR Social media companies will be required by the government to police users' posts by removing the content or suspending the account. Instead of a blue-uniformed policeman, it will be a cold coded algorithm putting its virtual hand on the shoulder of the user. The imprecise wording offers them huge discretion. They have a conflicted role - interfere with freedom of expression and simultaneously to protect it. Revision is needed to protect the rights of those who are speaking lawfully, and doing no harm, but whose speech is restricted in error.

Read more: Online Safety Bill - Freedom to interfere?

Iptegrity moves on!

May 2024: Iptegrity is being re-developed to upgrade the Joomla software.

Please bear with us until the new site is ready.

Find me on LinkedIn

About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor: online safety, technology and human rights. In April 2024, I was appointed as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on online safety and empowerment of content creators and users. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.