Please see below a response from the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA UK) to the Online Harms announced by the DCMS Secretary today.
We have provided a press comment as well as some contextual background information about the announcements to help clarify the position of ISPs within Online Harms:
ISPA Chair Andrew Glover commented:
"While our members will not be subject to the duty of care, it is clear that they are expected to play a supporting role, either through the implementation of business disruption measures or through taking voluntary action to address the most serious harms.
“These proposals seem sensible, and we particularly welcome the fact that blocking orders would be subject to court approval and can be extended to companies that offer similar services as our members. However, we await further clarity on these points and we will push for a proportionate implementation of the new rules that recognises the ongoing efforts and investment from UK ISPs into online safety.”
The focus of the Government’s announcement today is rightly put on companies that directly facilitate the creation and sharing of user generated content. This recognises the changing nature of the internet as well as the investment that our members have made in recent years to make the internet a safer environment for UK users.
While not being subject to the duty of care, ISPs are classed as internet infrastructure providers who may need to assist Ofcom with the implementation of Business Disruption Measures. These are effectively blocking orders and we welcome that these cannot only be imposed on ISPs but also on other companies that have started to play a similar role in facilitating access to the internet, e.g. browsers or app stores. Crucially, we welcome that these disruption measures will need to be approved by a court.
The Government response also recognises the work that ISPs have done in support of the Internet Watch Foundation. Voluntary Best Practice Guidelines will provide further detail on how ISPs can continue to address the most serious harms online, but we await further detail on this.