Home RegionsEurope Comments to Ofcom on Protecting People From Illegal Harms Online

Comments to Ofcom on Protecting People From Illegal Harms Online

by Ayesha Bhatti
Ofcom logo

The Center for Data Innovation submitted comments to Ofcom, the regulator of communications services in the UK, on its first major consultation on the Online Safety Act. The Center offered several recommendations for how Ofcom could improve and refine its proposals, including:

  • Ofcom should not list common functionalities, such as end-to-end encryption, live streaming, and recommender systems, as risk factors that online services must consider when conducting risk assessments because including these overwhelmingly beneficial features will discourage their use. Similarly, Ofcom should not consider an online service’s revenue model or use of advertising as a risk factor.
  • Ofcom should consider the rapidly growing set of decentralized services (e.g., Mastodon) where there may not be a centralized organization to implement many of the proposed governance and accountability features. In addition, Ofcom’s definition of large services should reflect the total number of users of a decentralized service.
  • Ofcom should be clearer about its plans for enforcement. There is a risk of over-moderation if Ofcom penalizes services for not taking down content later deemed illegal by regulators.
  • Ofcom should strive to create technology-neutral rules that neither favor nor penalize the use of emerging technology like artificial intelligence (AI). For example, Ofcom applies rules to traditional search engines that would seemingly not apply to emerging alternatives, such as AI chatbots that perform similar information retrieval functions.

Read the submission.

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