‘A private space online’ means very different things to different people: a place where what you do is none of anyone else’s business – a crucial site of resistance and safeguard against oppression and violence – a space which allows and facilitates abuse and terror. In the course of the development of the Online Safety Bill by the UK Government over the last two years, the stance on how private channels should be regulated to protect user safety has changed, but leaves many of the core questions unanswered.
With the Online Safety draft bill now entering the phase of pre-legislative scrutiny, Demos brought together a group of experts from across industry, civil society and government, to establish where there is already agreement on protecting privacy and safety online, where there are key disagreements, and to use this to map out how solutions could be reached. During the workshop, we ran two parallel discussions: one facilitated conversational discussion, and one online discussion using the deliberative tool Polis.
In this report, we present the key areas of consensus; where attitudes of our participants diverged; and how digital regulation in the UK could evolve to take account of these agreements and differences.