ICO responds to Ofcom's protecting against illegal harms online consultation

01/03/2024 | ICO

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has responded to Ofcom’s consultation on protecting people from illegal harms online. In its response, the ICO highlighted the importance of users having confidence in the protection of their privacy and expected online services to comply fully with data protection law to meet their online safety obligations. 

On the subject of automated content moderation measures in the illegal content codes of practice, the ICO stressed the need to align the measures with data protection laws. While the ICO is not opposed to the recommended content moderation measures in principle, they raise concerns about the impact on people's information rights and disagree with the notion that the privacy impact of automated scanning is minimal. 

Concerning its risk assessment guidance, while the ICO did not challenge Ofcom's conclusion that encrypted messaging and anonymity/pseudonymity functionality are risks for illegal harm, the ICO expressed concerns that the risk assessment guidance could discourage the deployment of functionalities such as end-to-end encryption. The ICO recommended that the guidance emphasise the importance of implementing safeguards to manage risks while allowing users to enjoy the benefits of such functionalities. 

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Online harm, online safety act

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