WEDNESDAY 11 MAR 2020 10:53 AM


The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has cautiously welcomed 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."

Ofcom is set to be put in charge of regulating the internet, with directors at social media firms potentially facing prosecution should they be found in breach of their duty of care. However, the CIPR warns it might have the perverse effect of making prosecutions harder and less likely to succeed.

The new regulations would give the regulator licence 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.

CIPR president Jenni Field says, "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 overreach their purpose.”