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UK House of Lords Inquiry on ‘The Regulation of the Internet’

The UK House of Lords Select Committee on Communications has recently opened a Public Consultation on ‘The Regulation of the Internet’, with submissions being accepted until Friday 11 May. The Call for Evidence can be accessed here.

The nine questions posed are relatively broad in scope, including: whether there is a need to introduce specific regulation for the Internet, the legal liability of online platforms, responsibility for online community standards, measures for online safety, information on the use of personal data, and the transparency of business practices – such as the use of algorithms. The last question posed asks stakeholders for their views on what effect the UK leaving the European Union will have on the regulation of the Internet in the UK.

The aim of this Inquiry is to examine how the regulation of the Internet in the UK should be improved, including options of self-regulation and governance – and whether a new regulatory framework for the Internet is necessary – or general UK law is adequate. It follows on from the UK Government’s October 2017 Internet Safety Strategy green paper, which was underpinned by the principle ‘what is unacceptable off-line should be unacceptable online ‘. It also follows the Government’s Digital Charter introduced in January 2018.

In response to the current Inquiry, stakeholders are encouraged to focus on their areas of expertise and therefore do not have to answer every question. They are also permitted to address any additional relevant issues of their choosing not covered by the set questions, provided that they explain the significance of such issues, widening the potential ambit of this Inquiry. As with the standard House of Lords Inquiry process, stakeholders who submit written evidence may be invited to give oral evidence at Westminster – currently tabled between April and September 2018. Any stakeholder wishing to make a submission on this important debate should submit their written evidence online here by 11 May. The Covington Inside Tech Media blog team will post further updates on related developments of significance, in the UK, and across Europe, Asia and the US.

© 2020 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 96


About this Author

Kevin Coates, Covington, regulatory and public policy attorney

Kevin Coates advises clients on critical antitrust matters drawing on his extensive public sector experience in the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission ("DG COMP"), most recently as Head of a Cartel Unit.

His practice has a particular focus on advising companies in the electronics, technology, software and e-commerce sectors.

Mr. Coates advises on all aspects of EU, UK and international competition law, including merger control, compliance, cartels and leniency, and abuse of dominance.

32 2 549 5232
Siobhan Kahmann, Regulatory and public policy lawyer, Covington

Siobhan L.M. Kahmann has extensive experience advising on a range of competition issues, including cartel investigations and leniency applications, complex vertical distribution issues, European and multi-jurisdictional merger control filings, abuse of dominance claims, and competition compliance. Her practise includes providing wide-ranging and detailed advice on digital platforms and e-commerce in a competition context. She also has significant experience advising on net neutrality issues with a focus on zero-rating. Ms. Kahmann is frequently involved with client work and insights on Brexit.

Ms. Kahmann has advised local and multi-international clients across a range of industries, with a focus on technology, transport, and FMCG.