Greta Barkle

Online Harms Regulation – Sanctions But Not Criminal Liability?

In April 2019, the UK published an Online Harms White Paper proposing a broad new statutory duty of care for social media companies and platform providers to tackle widespread concerns about a host of online issues, from terrorist and child sexual abuse content to cyber bullying and trolling. More than 18 months on, BCL’s Greta Barkle asks where have the proposals got to?

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Emerging from COVID-19: an opportunity for prosecutors?

Criminal lawyers are always asked by their clients how long they think an investigation or prosecution into allegedly serious offending will take. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, in a justice system crippled by budget cuts and beset with inefficiencies, the answer would nearly always be measured in years.

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Data regulation: An ‘empathetic’ approach from the ICO, but risks remain

While the tragic human consequences of COVID-19 have played out on nightly news bulletins, regulators across Europe have scrambled to adjust their approach to minimise its immediate and longer-term economic consequences. Early on, the UK’s Information Commissioner (‘ICO’) declared its reasonableness and pragmatism in the face of the health emergency and, on 15 April, it fleshed this out in a publication setting out its regulatory approach during the coronavirus pandemic. The ICO’s document is one of a series issued by the data watchdog in recent weeks and will be welcomed by data controllers and processors under exceptional pressure. Nevertheless, those seeking dispensation from data security obligations at this time will look in vain, and risks remain for the unwary.

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Infodemic: Tackling COVID-19 online disinformation

Updated 22nd April 2020

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet was fertile territory for the spread of dangerous disinformation. Hostile states and malicious or misguided individuals quickly adopted the online sphere as a means of disseminating misleading and harmful material to a global audience for personal, financial or political aims. Steps were already taking place around the world to tackle the scourge of disinformation, often igniting concerns about freedom of speech. The global spread of the coronavirus has laid bare the lethal backdrop to this debate and galvanised social media giants and governments alike to tackle what the World Health Organisation (‘WHO’) has described a massive ‘infodemic’ accompanying the disease – an over-abundance of information, some accurate and some dangerously false, often leaving the public bewildered and vulnerable.

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