In theory, media regulation means controlling or circumscribing the activities of mass media organisations for the benefit of the population. So effective media regulation should keep us safer, better informed, well entertained, and facilitate communication. This policy is a promise to maintain a consistent approach to regulation of both offline and online media.
Press regulation is overseen by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP), set up by Royal Charter following the Leveson Inquiry. The PRP recognises and approves just one regulatory body, IMPRESS. Another body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) also exists, but has declined to seek recognition from the PRP. So even within traditional, offline media there is not a consistent approach to regulation, and under this government there have so far been no attempts to address that.
The borderless nature of the internet makes regulation much more complex online. There is currently no “internet regulator” in the UK. The Government response to the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper in May 2018 promised a white paper to be published in late 2018, which would set out legislation to be brought forward addressing internet safety and regulation.
The white paper has not yet been published at the time of writing, although a September 2018 report suggests the government is “considering all options…including whether a regulator is needed”.
This is a complex and controversial policy area. Our judgement is that currently the offline approach to regulation appears inconsistent, and the online approach is in its infancy. We’re calling this ‘in progress’ because the government’s response to the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper means that there has been at least some work on this . We’ll look again when the white paper is published, to see what’s changed and whether there are grounds for moving it to ‘done’. Follow this policy to stay up to date.
If you want the details…
- Internet Safety Strategy – Green paper, October 2017 – Gov.uk
- Government response to the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper, May 2018 – Gov.uk
- Government outlines next steps to make the UK the safest place to be online – Gov.uk
- Press Recognition Panel (PRP)
- Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)
- Divisions persist about who should regulate UK press – BBC News
- Internet regulator considered for UK – BBC News