Internet: Regulation

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans he has to regulate online activity to bring it into line with activity that would be considered to be illegal if it were conducted offline.

Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Our view is that behaviour which is illegal or unacceptable offline should be treated the same online. The Online Harms White Paper sets out our plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, through establishing a statutory duty of care that will be enforced by an independent regulator. Companies will be held to account for tackling a comprehensive set of online harms, both those which are illegal and also behaviours that may not be illegal but are nonetheless highly damaging to individuals and society.

We are also ensuring that the criminal law is fit for purpose to deal with online harms. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport and the Ministry of Justice have now engaged the Law Commission on a second phase of their review of abusive and offensive online communications. The Law Commission will review existing communications offences and make recommendations about options for reform. This will include considering whether co-ordinated harassment by groups of people online could be more effectively dealt with by the criminal law. The Law Commission will also look at criminal law around non-consensual taking and sharing of intimate images, considering existing offences and identifying whether there are any gaps in the protection already offered to victims. The Law Commission will make recommendations to ensure that criminal law provides consistent and effective protection against such behaviour.

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