Internet ‘a lottery’ for child safety, says Ofcom chief

Donna Miller
September 20, 2018

Tech companies such as Facebook and Google could be regulated in the same way as the mobile phone and broadband industry, the head of media regulator Ofcom is expected to say on Tuesday.

The survey from the British communications regulator and the Information Commissioner's Office sought the opinions of 1,686 internet users over the ages of 16 about their attitudes to, and experiences of, online harm across a range of categories.

But people are beginning to fight back with one in five respondents saying they had reported harmful content encountered online, with younger adults more likely to do this.

On Tuesday, Ms White will outline a potential blueprint for statutory regulation of social media by warning that people now face a "standards lottery" due to the disparity.

An Ofcom spokesperson made it clear that the ultimate format of any regulatory system would be a matter for the government.

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The document suggests that certain broadcasting regulation principles could be relevant for online protection issues, including protection and assurance; transparency; adaptability over time; upholding freedom of expression; independent regulation; and effective enforcement.

"While the regulation of online content has evolved in recent years, there are significant disparities in whether and how it is regulated".

"The boundaries between broadcasting and the online world are being redrawn". The study shows that protection of children online is a primary concern for people, as well as mixed levels of understanding about about what types of media are regulated.

Incidents such as the Cambridge Analytica data scandal have increased discussion around the regulation of social networks and the content they produce and how that content impacts upon the health of society and public debate.

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