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On 8 April 2019, the Government published its Online Harms White Paper, which set out proposals to introduce a new regulatory framework for online activity. This briefing explores the debate around regulating the internet, beginning by summarising concerns that have been raised about online harms. It then outlines the current approach to online activity, which relies primarily on online platforms to self-regulate. It goes on to consider proposals for regulating the internet, examining various approaches, such as categorising online platforms as publishers or imposing a ‘duty of care’ on them, and proposals for an independent body to oversee regulation. The briefing then summarises the Government’s approach to online safety, culminating with the Online Harms White Paper. The briefing summarises the reaction to the white paper, which has received cross-party support and has been welcomed by key stakeholders. Nonetheless some key concerns about the feasibility of such an approach, the implications for freedom of speech, and the impact on smaller technology companies have been raised.

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