The Government have committed to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, and to play video games. A full Government response outlining the ways they will tackle online harms has now been published, and legislation is expected to follow suit in early 2021. The new legislation will expect online providers, including games businesses, to establish a duty of care towards players and especially children. This duty of care will be regulated by an independent regulator, Ofcom.

 

Timeline

  • The Government published an Online Harms White Paper setting out their plans for a package of online safety measures and announcing a consultation with stakeholders on its contents. The consultation began on 8 April 2019 and closed on 1 July 2019.
  • The Government published their initial consultation response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation on 12 February 2020. In their response, they granted further powers to Ofcom to regulate the social media world.
  • The Government announced a call for evidence on the impact of loot boxes in video games, to examine concerns they may encourage or lead to problem gambling. The call for evidence is due to close on 22 November 2020.
  • On 15 December 2020, the Government published their full response to the Online Harms White Paper. We are expecting the corresponding legislation in the new year.

The Government's full response to the Online Harms White Paper

  • On 15 December 2020, the Government published their full response to the Online Harms White Paper. 
  • TIGA have published a summary of the key aspects of the response relevant to the video games industry.
  • The Government have published a fact sheet, answering questions surrounding the Government Response.
  • Oliver Dowden’s Ministerial statement to the House of Commons, announcing the publication of the Government’s response, can be accessed here. 
  • The Chair of the DCMS Select Committee, Julian Knight MP, has commented on the contents of the Government’s response. His comments can be accessed here. 
  • Ofcom have released a statement outlining their role in the new Online Harms framework, which can be read in full here