CIPR calls for "accountability and effective enforcement" to tackle online harms
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) cautiously welcomes moves to introduce new legislation on social media, delivering on the government’s commitment to make the UK the "safest place in the world to be online".
There is much room for debate however about the effectiveness of the government’s currently preferred approach of making individual directors personally liable for online harms. CIPR warn it may have the perverse effect of making prosecutions harder and less likely to succeed. The government is set to announce social media bosses could face prosecution should they be found in breach of their duty of care with Culture Secretary, Baroness Morgan, due to appoint Ofcom as the new social media regulator.
The new regulations would give the regulator license to legally enforce codes of practice, forcing internationally based social media firms to appoint directors in the UK - reflecting 'senior management liability' laws operating in the financial sector.
Creating codes of practice outlining what social media firms need to do is one step in the right direction. This should be done in conjunction with the need for action to be taken against those codes for there to be the necessary protections for users against online harms. We would encourage more debate around whether personal liability will actually lead to firms being held to account – because accountability and effective enforcement is what is needed here.
CIPR has previously welcomed moves to tackle online harms but has warned against "creating laws to regulate situations as yet unknown that aren’t either abstract or over reach their purpose."
- CIPR welcomes DCMS call to tackle fake news - February 2019
- Lords report calls for authority to regulate digital world - March 2019
- Government paper proposes how to tackle online harms - April 2019
About the Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Founded in 1948, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) is the world's only Royal Chartered professional body for public relations practitioners in the UK and overseas with nearly 10,000 members.
The CIPR advances professionalism in public relations by making its members accountable to their employers and the public through a code of conduct and searchable public register, setting standards through training, qualifications, awards and the production of best practice and skills guidance, facilitating Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and awarding Chartered Public Relations Practitioner status (Chart.PR).