Govt response to Online Harms consultation threatens freedom of speech and innovation, says IEA expert
The IEA’s Head of Regulatory Affairs Victoria Hewson commented on the government’s initial response to the public consultation on the Online Harms White Paper
“At a time when the Chancellor is challenging businesses to come up with ways of cutting red tape, it is disappointing to see other government departments intent on creating it.
“Everyone wants children and vulnerable people to be safe and terrorism to be tackled but handing power over what people are allowed to say and see online to a regulator is not a proportionate way to achieve this.
“The assertion that this development will “provide the certainty that business needs to flourish and innovate” is dubious. As we have seen with other recent interventions in the digital sector like the GDPR, legislators massively underestimated the costs of implementation and the impact on competition and innovation has been serious. These measures will require guidance and rule making from a regulator undertaking new responsibilities, which is likely to create uncertainty, causing platforms to adopt risk-averse procedures and crack down on legal content.
“A vague duty on Ofcom to “pay due regard to safeguarding free speech” offers little consolation, and giving such powers to an independent regulator, with no clarity as to how its decisions can be appealed and challenged, threatens fundamental rights and the rule of law.
“The government is getting ahead of themselves by suggesting who the regulator will be before they have published the full consultation response on the substance of the proposed law. This disjointed approach does not inspire confidence that a rigourous process is being followed.”
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Emily Carver, Media Manager | 07715 942 731
For further reading from Victoria on the Online Harms White Paper, click here.
The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems and seeks to provide analysis in order to improve the public understanding of economics.
The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.
Latest News from
A statement from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) Trustees and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT) Board15/04/2021 14:05:00
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is an independent social change organisation working to solve UK poverty. It is linked through a group structure with the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT), a registered housing association and care provider.
IFS - The Scottish Government’s tax and benefit policies are progressive but sometimes unnecessarily complicated15/04/2021 11:15:00
The Scottish Government has used its devolved tax and benefit powers to craft a more progressive system than is in place in the rest of the UK. On average, taxes are higher for high-income households, and benefits more generous for low-income households.
Adam Smith Inst - 1000 Statutory Instruments Last Year Wrapped Britain in Red Tape14/04/2021 14:05:00
The rule of law and Britain’s economic prosperity is being undermined by excessive legislating and regulating, a new report from the free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute claims.
IFS - Official estimates suggest Scottish health spending per person now 3% higher than in England, compared with 22% at the start of devolution14/04/2021 11:15:00
Spending on health accounts for a growing share of total public service spending in both Scotland and England.
CSJ - Unsafe Children: Child Sexual Abuse And Exploitation13/04/2021 10:35:00
Child sexual abuse (CSA) in this country is nothing short of an epidemic. The Crime Survey of England and Wales estimates that 3.1 million adults were victims/survivors of child sexual abuse before they turned 16 which is likely to be a highly conservative estimate.
IEA experts comment on roadmap’s second stage13/04/2021 09:35:00
Government’s refusal to depart from “outdated” plan is “costing billions”.
Civitas - Anti-racism industry creating a dependency upon race experts in which ‘racial divisions are becoming ever more firmly entrenched’, says think-tank report08/04/2021 10:35:00
The anti-racism industry ‘creates a dependency’ upon a race discourse that sows division, finds a new Civitas report. ‘The tragic consequence’, the report finds, ‘is that racial divisions are becoming ever more firmly entrenched’.
The King’s Fund response to The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report02/04/2021 09:10:00
Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, commented on the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities