[Redacted]: This Article Categorised [harmful] by the Government

Edina Harbinja, Mark Leiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In April 2019, the UK Government’s DCMS released its White Paper for
‘Online Harms’, which would establish in law a new duty of care towards
users by platforms to be overseen by an independent regulator. Our earlier
research outlines how we got to this point, sets out what the White Paper
proposes, and criticises its key aspects. Our objections and criticism remain
applicable to the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill. The Parliament is
now scrutinising the Bill. The House of Lords Report sparked some
optimism that the scrutiny could address critical concerns around free
speech in particular. The Draft Online Safety Bill Joint Committee Report,
however, suggest otherwise. This paper returns to key arguments as to
why risk-based regulation and duty of care are not appropriate for policing
content and expression online. We focus on the human rights implications
of the Bill, in particular, the provider duties to ‘handle’ legal but harmful
content. Here, we reemphasise the vague conceptualisation and nature of
this harm, as well as the inadequate duties attached to it. We argue that the
independence of OFCOM cannot be guaranteed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-119
Number of pages32
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

(c) 2022 Edina Harbinja and Mark R. Leiser. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.


  • online safety bill
  • platforms
  • platform regulation
  • free expression
  • online harms
  • duty of care


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