STATEMENT
Index urges UK government to rethink proposals for online harms regulation over risks to media freedom
18 Apr 2019
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Index on Censorship has filed an official alert with the Council of Europe about risks to media freedom in proposals in the government’s recently released online harms white paper. The white paper has raised serious concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression, including press freedom.

In response to a letter from Ian Murray of the Society of Editors, which raised concerns about potential impacts on press freedom, secretary of state Jeremy Wright responded stating that journalistic or editorial content will not be affected by the proposed regulatory framework.

However, the far-reaching proposals that aim to address unclearly defined “harms” include a legal duty of care and the possibility of large fines and potentially even personal criminal liability for senior managers. These create a strong incentive to restrict and remove content, which could include “harmful” journalistic content where it appears online. The white paper includes disinformation in its list of harms.  

Index on Censorship head of advocacy Joy Hyvarinen said: “The proposed regulation to tackle online harms has not been thought through properly. Based on the proposals in the online harms white paper, press freedom impacts would be very difficult to avoid. Index urges the government to reconsider these proposals.”

Iran protests: “Mahsa” Amini does not exist

The name of the woman murdered by Iran’s “morality police” was Jina Amini but Kurds in the country cannot use their real names, says British-Kurdish writer and organiser Elif Sarican

“I have gone through hell”: assault, starvation, discrimination

An Afghan journalist says her escape from the Taliban to Pakistan has only gone to show why the UK government must do more

Hong Kong’s travesty of a show trial begins

The Hong Kong 47 are now on trial. There is nothing free or fair about this

Online Safety Bill edges forwards but issues remain

The algorithmic censorship of content and the threat to end-to-end encryption need addressing

Comments are closed.