Why The United Kingdom's Proposal For A “Package Of Platform Safety Measures” Will Harm Free Speech

Keywords: duty of care, regulation, platforms, platform regulation, online harms, #OnlineHarms, law, technology, online safety, internet


This article critiques key proposals of the United Kingdom’s “Online Harms” White Paper; in particular, the proposal for new digital regulator and the imposition of a “duty of care” on platforms. While acknowledging that a duty of care, backed up by sanctions works well in some environments, we argue is not appropriate for policing the White Paper’s identified harms as it could result in the blocking of legal, subjectively harmful content. Furthermore, the proposed regulator lacks the necessary independence and could be subjected to political interference. We conclude that the imposition of a duty of care will result in an unacceptable chilling effect on free expression, resulting in a draconian regulatory environment for platforms, with users’ digital rights adversely affected.

Author Biographies

Mark Leiser, eLaw/Leiden Law School

Dr. Mark Leiser is Assistant Professor in Law and Digital Technologies, Leiden Law School, The Netherlands.

Edina Harbinja, Aston University

Dr Edina Harbinja, Senior Lecturer in Media/Privacy Law, Aston University, United Kingdom.

How to Cite
Leiser, M.R., and Edina Harbinja. 2020. “CONTENT NOT AVAILABLE”. Technology and Regulation 2020 (September), 78-90.