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Offsite Article: What to do about Sunak's silly plan to curb social media for under-16s?...

Link Here 16th December 2023
Full story: UK Government vs Encryption...Government seeks to restrict peoples use of encryption
Linking encryption so closely to the protection of children suggests the plans to raise the minimum age at which users can access social networks is a response to companies' defiance over encrypted messages

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Offsite Article: Online Safety Act 2023...

Link Here4th December 2023
Full story: Online Safety Act...UK Government legislates to censor social media
A summary of the current position of the UK's (anti-)pornographic internet censorship provisions

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Offsite Article: "You Don't Belong Here!"...

Link Here11th November 2023
Full story: Online Safety Act...UK Government legislates to censor social media
With 1500 pages outlining a mountain of suffocating red tape in the name of internet regulation, Ofcom delivers a message to small British internet companies

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EPG listing set to require that included streaming channels submit to UK TV censorship rules...

The UK government dreams up a new wheeze to take censorship control of streaming TV channels under current law

Link Here26th September 2023
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
The government writes:

Broadcast television in the UK is subject to a system of regulation overseen by the independent communications regulator Ofcom, which is key to ensuring protections for audiences. This regulation ensures that regulated television channels available in the UK abide by a common set of rules and standards in relation to the programmes they show.

Over the last century, the number of channels available in the UK has increased significantly 203 from a single channel in 1922 to several hundred today. This trend has been recently accelerated by the increasing availability of internet-delivered linear television, known as internet protocol (IP) delivered television. For example, Sky's newest product Sky Stream delivers content via the internet, compared to Sky Q that delivers its services via satellite.

Under the amended Communications Act 2003, in general only channels that appear on regulated electronic programme guides (EPGs) are subject to UK regulation. Which EPGs are regulated in the UK is described in legislation and under this description these currently are Freeview, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media, and YouView. This list of regulated EPGs means that many of the newer EPGs and channels utilising IP technology are unregulated and can be easily accessed by audiences on their television sets. While millions of people still choose to watch television through the traditional regulated EPGs, there are increasingly significant numbers of UK viewers accessing linear television channels and content via television sets that can be connected to the internet. Data suggests that the UK has a high proportion of these kinds of televisions, with smart televisions already in as many as 74% of UK households.

This shift is transforming the way that audiences access television, with many new services now delivered via the internet. This evolution of distribution means that there is greater choice for consumers in how they access linear television content and that there is more competition within the market for delivering services, allowing for new and innovative services to emerge.

Many of the larger providers of unregulated EPGs have voluntarily put in place terms and procedures to protect audiences from harmful content, which may result in some comparable levels of protection as the regulated EPGs while incurring lower administrative costs for the providers.

However, the introduction of these newer unregulated and self-regulated guides has resulted in a clear regulatory gap within the existing statutory regime, which could result in inconsistent protections for audiences and limited options for independent complaints handling. This also means that guides do not have to ensure other benefits for audiences like prominence for public service channels and accessibility for people with disabilities.

The government is therefore concerned that the combination of the defined set of regulated EPGs and the growth of new, IP delivered services means that there is increasingly a lack of regulation. UK audiences being able to access unregulated EPGs means there is an increasing number of linear television channels and services that are not regulated by Ofcom and to the standards audiences in the UK expect. This has the potential to cause harm, especially for children and vulnerable audiences, with no statutory protections on these unregulated services.

The lack of protections in place for these unregulated services mean that there is a range of potentially harmful content that could be shown on television with no independent recourse for action to be taken. This includes content that would be unsuitable for younger audiences that are available during the day, that would need to be shown after the watershed if regulated, such as those that include swearing, violence, and sexual content.

Moreover, an inconsistent application of statutory regulation means that EPGs delivering similar -- and often competing -- services do not currently have to comply with the same statutory requirements. This means that there is not currently a fair competitive environment between providers.

Given the landscape of changing technology and the increasing risk to audiences of unregulated content appearing on television, the government believes that legislation is required to update the EPGs that are regulated in the UK. The government is therefore consulting on whether and how to use existing powers that allow it to update which EPGs are regulated in the UK.

This 8-week consultation seeks views on whether and how the Secretary of State should exercise this power, and seeks views on a proposed approach.

In summary, the government is consulting on:

  • The impact of regulating EPGs.

  • The proposed approach for defining which EPGs should be regulated.

Responses from all individuals or organisations on the specific consultation questions and content of the consultation document are welcome.

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