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
The West must avoid “politically dangerous” and “economically costly” confrontation with China, says new IEA briefing paper06/08/2020 12:35:00
The Institute of Economic Affairs has released a new briefing paper, authored by IEA Head of Education Dr Stephen Davies and Professor Syed Kamall, the IEA’s Academic and Research Director, who sat on the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee from 2005-2019.
Revealed: value of six big-tech firms has soared $1.9 trillion since Covid, as IPPR urges rethink on who owns our digital data06/08/2020 11:35:00
‘Covid effect’ shows why UK needs new digital regulator and action by local authorities to drive common ownership of data and open access
Planning reforms not the 'radical shake-up' some expected, says IEA expert06/08/2020 10:35:00
Dr Kristian Niemietz, Head of Political Economy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, responded to the government’s planning proposals
IEA - Business rates are a “poorly-designed” tax in need of reform, says Professor Len Shackleton06/08/2020 09:35:00
Professor Len Shackleton, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow, responded to reports that the Chancellor is considering an increase in business rates for the “most valuable properties”
Policy Exchange - Call for evidence: Building hospitals in the post-Covid era04/08/2020 12:35:00
In the context of the government’s plans to build 40 new hospitals, Policy Exchange is launching a call for evidence to inform a major piece of research into how we should build the next generation of hospitals.
Demos - British public support ban on targeted political ads online04/08/2020 11:35:00
New research has found that calls for greater regulation in political campaigns have a far greater consensus of support among the general public than arguments against regulation.
IFG - Public services were not fit to respond to the coronavirus crisis04/08/2020 10:35:00
Failures in planning and funding cuts meant public services were not well prepared to handle the coronavirus crisis, says a new report from the Institute for Government and the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy.
IFS - Geographical inequality in incomes has been falling, but wealth inequalities are rising04/08/2020 09:35:00
The government pledges to ‘level up’ the country and, more recently, the unequal impacts of the COVID-19 crisis have led to an increased focus on inequalities between places as well as between people.
IEA - Furlough scheme changes reflect need to get “back to reality”31/07/2020 16:20:00
Professor Len Shackleton, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow, commented on changes to the furlough scheme effective tomorrow and calls to extend the scheme