No one wants the internet to be a source of harm. Our industry has always carried with it the optimism with which the internet was born. The ability of a single individual to speak to the whole world, to be connected with the all the learning humanity has ever generated, and to be able to do business with anyone anywhere in the world creates unprecedented opportunities and freedoms.
This growth has not come without potential downsides, with “online harms” chief among them. Our industry has a vested interest in minimising these harms. That is why we continue to work hard and engage with Government to reach a regulatory framework that will tackle harms but retain the huge benefits that the internet brings to everyday life.
Our members want their services to be places that everyone feels are safe to use. Ensuring we achieve that ambition is not easy, but as an industry we are committed to reducing harms as much as is currently possible – and what is possible is increasing every month. Rather than a ‘wild west’ as some have described, internet companies take meaningful steps to ensure their services protect users from harm.
From working with groups like the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit and forming the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) to curtail the spread of terrorism and violent extremism online, through to investing millions in state of the art AI and human content moderation systems and teams, the industry work hard to get this right.
But we are concerned that the proposals in the Online Harms White Paper published by the Government last month are not sufficiently targeted or proportionate to the harms they are designed to minimise. Instead, they risk muddying the water and making it harder, not easier, for companies to get this right.