Ofcom has set out on the road that is likely to lead to the regulator being given responsibility for video sharing platforms (VSPs).
Earlier this year the UK government confirmed Ofcom at the regulator for VSPs established in the UK, under revisions to the EU-wide Audiovisual Media Services Directive. New powers will be put in place that will give Ofcom potentially harmful content; and measures to protect all users from illegal content and incitement to hatred and violence. The remit will include advertising standards.
We are also required to draw up guidance for VSP providers on how they should practically apply protection measures on their service while safeguarding users’ freedom of expression.To help inform that guidance, we would like to hear from platforms, experts, users and other interested parties about current good practice, technical capabilities of VSP services, and any issues and challenges to further our understanding of the sector and the risks of harm.
Earlier this month historian Dr David Starkey issued an apology following racist comments he made in a YouTube interview with the right wing commentator Darren Grimes. Had it been broadcast on a mainstream channel would have bee likely to attract a series of complaints. However, YouTube and Facebook both have their EU office in Ireland and would fall under that country’s authority.
VSP regulation currently sits under the EU’s revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which the UK is committed to transposing during the Brexit transition period.
YouTube and Facebook will almost certainly not be in the UK’s jurisdiction under the revised AVMSD, but will likely fall within Ireland’s jurisdiction. We will work closely with regulators across Europe as they develop their approaches to VSP regulation to ensure that the UK public is protected on those services which Ofcom does not directly regulate. For example, to ensure that people who have concerns about services regulated outside of the UK will still be able to raise issues with Ofcom.
Ofcom expects to publish its regulatory guidance by Summer 2021 and says it will work with VSPs as they begin to implement their new compliance processes to ensure consumer protection.