Regulation of online speech in the UK

Article


Jones, M. 2024. Regulation of online speech in the UK. University of the Pacific Law Review. 55 (2), pp. 261-276.
TypeArticle
TitleRegulation of online speech in the UK
AuthorsJones, M.
Abstract

Online speech in the UK is already being chilled due to the provisions and/or operation of a variety of laws. In statutes dealing with defamation, terrorism, data protection, privacy, and more, ‘notice and take-down’ regimes and state mandated content moderation are to be found aplenty. This has reached such saturation that instead of thinking of speech as ‘free’ one could be forgiven to observe that the adjectives that more accurately describe the situation in the UK nowadays is ‘restricted’, ‘permitted’, ‘proscribed’ and ‘censored’. What you can say now very much depends on who you are, what you are saying, and where you are saying it.
Against this background, the newly enacted Online Safety Act goes even further. Instead of the usual notice and takedown regime, corporations will be placed in charge of and legally required, to proactively seek out and limit online content. The likely result of outsourcing public duties like this would be censorship by algorithm. Various established principles of the law are being stretched or outright violated. This paper analyses the likely effects of the new law by comparing it to current domestic and select laws from other similar jurisdictions, and concludes that it will not operate in a transparent or accountable manner but will instead be anti-democratic and it will violate the rule of law.

KeywordsOnline Safety Act 2023; Defamation Act 2013; Defamation; Privacy law; Data Protection; Online Safety; Online Speech; Freedom of Speech
Sustainable Development Goals16 Peace, justice and strong institutions
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
PublisherUniversity of the Pacific
JournalUniversity of the Pacific Law Review
ISSN
Electronic1520-9245
Publication dates
Print20 Feb 2024
Publication process dates
AcceptedOct 2023
Deposited15 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
File Access Level
Open
Copyright Statement

Scholarly Commons © 2024

Web address (URL)https://scholarlycommons.pacific.edu/uoplawreview/vol55/iss2/12/
LanguageEnglish
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