Ofcom boosts police video-sharing platforms

Ofcom has issued stricter new guidelines for video-sharing platforms (VSPs) in a bid to protect users from harmful content.

As part of the new measures, VSPs, including TikTok, Snapchat, Vimeo and Twitch, are required by law to take steps to protect those under 18 from potentially harmful video content. All users must be protected from videos that may incite violence or hatred, and certain types of criminal content.

Previous research from the regulator found that a third of users said they had been exposed to hateful content, while a quarter said they saw unwanted violent or disturbing content on the platforms. One in five people said they had seen videos or content encouraging racism.

Ofcom said it had already started talking with VSPs about their responsibilities and how they should comply. While the body doesn’t itself monitor content like it does with TV shows, the laws spell out the steps providers must take to protect their users.

The Internet Watch Foundation reported a 77% increase in the amount of “self-generated” abuse content in 2020, with porn sites presenting an increased risk of child sexual abuse material and the increase in sites direct-to-fan subscriptions have potentially made this risk more pronounced.

“Online videos now play a huge role in our lives, especially for children. But many people see hateful, violent or inappropriate material while using them,” said Dame Melanie Dawes, Chief Executive of Ofcom. The platforms where these videos are shared now have a legal obligation to take action to protect their users, so we’re stepping up our oversight of these tech companies, while preparing to tackle a much wider range of online harms. ‘coming.

If Ofcom discovers that a VSP has breached its obligations, it has the power to investigate and take action against them, including fines, requiring the provider to take specific action, or even suspend the service in the most serious cases.

The regulator’s mandate currently covers platforms established in Great Britain, initially 18 in number. Platforms established in other countries, such as YouTube and Facebook, are excluded.

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Shirley K. Rosa