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Ofcom report advocates self regulation for web

Ofcom, the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, has argued in a new report that self-regulatory initiatives, allied to effective media literacy initiatives and supported by general law, will continue to be the most effective way to deliver consumer protection in the online environment.

“There are already many factors contributing to consumer protection online, from the application of general law through to initiatives from individual internet players and collective industry bodies like the Internet Watch Foundation,” the report says.

“The broad range of internet services – from e-commerce to VoD to email – will require a broad and flexible set of regulatory solutions.”

The regulator also warns that consumers themselves will need to bear a greater degree of responsibility when they engage with internet services.

The report, titled ‘Online protection: A survey of consumer, industry and regulatory mechanisms and systems’, is the latest in a series of publications forming the regulator’s ongoing media literacy review.

This document is a research report intended to inform the debate about the most appropriate ways to address the consumer protection challenges raised by the internet, such as availability of pornography and increased availability of illegal imagery (e.g. violent pornography, child abuse), and easier access to products and services otherwise tightly-controlled like gambling or prescription drugs.

It is a broad survey of the key internet consumer protection issues and the national and international approaches taken to tackling those issues across the world. It does not include policy recommendations, though it does comment on the varying success of some of the initiatives adopted.

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