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Online regulation big in 2008

2008 is shaping up to be the year both UK and EU administrations switch their focus online - several new reviews have been announced.

The Byron Review of online protection for children continues until April. AOP submitted a response to the original call for evidence stressing that:

  • any call for mandatory age rating of online content could compromise press freedom
  • AOP has called for a further meeting with Dr Byron before she releases her recommendations to the Government

The Culture Media and Sport Select Committee announced its plans for an enquiry into protection online encompassing both children and adults.

  • The deadline for responses to this enquiry is the end of February
  • AOP will submit an augmented response and will meet John Whittingdale, the committee chairman before this

A high level group has been set up at the Department of Culture Media and Sport to investigate the issues surrounding convergence.
The Convergence Think Tank will examine the effect of convergence on the media industry - findings will be used by the Government to form policy in the future.

  • AOP is on the consultation list and will attend the regular meetings which will take place for stakeholders

Margaret Moran MP will put forward a bill calling for better online age verification technology in late January. Her main concern is child protection

  • AOP will be monitoring the progress of the Bill and has called for an early meeting with Ms Moran

Online advertising

Consumer organisations are raising concerns that self-regulatory rules on advertising of food to children do not extend to food producer websites, online chat rooms or online gaming sites.

  • Government has intimated that it shares these concerns and has placed the onus on the industry to find a self-regulatory way of dealing with this
  • Industry working groups in both the UK and Brussels are attempting to establish the extent to which self-regulation could be extended in this area
  • At this early stage in the debate all input on this subject is welcome

Review of EU Electronic Communications Regulations

Starting in 2008, this includes legislation on customers’ permissions to opt out of further communications from a business or its associates.

  • There is a strong push from the consumer lobby for an ‘opt-in’ regime which could see publishers having to ask permission to make further contact on every occasion
  • AOP will lobby to maintain the current regime

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