DTSP Submission to the UK Ofcom Consultation On Illegal Harms Online

The Digital Trust & Safety Partnership (DTSP) responded to Ofcom’s call for public comment on Protecting People from Illegal Harms Online.

Read our submission here.

The Digital Trust & Safety Partnership (DTSP) welcomes the opportunity to respond to Ofcom’s call for public comment on Protecting People from Illegal Harms Online.

Our partnership brings together providers of diverse digital products and services around shared commitments to trust and safety, and a framework of best practices and assessments grounded in the experience of practitioners. Current DTSP partners are listed on our website.

We would like to emphasize the following high-level points that are interwoven throughout our submission:

Our tailoring approach provides a different path to proportionality: DTSP appreciates and shares Ofcom’s view that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to trust and safety and to protecting people online. We agree that size is not the only factor that should be considered, and our assessment methodology, the Safe Framework, uses a tailoring framework that combines objective measures of organizational size and scale for the product or service in scope of assessment, as well as risk factors.

Enable services to identify, evaluate, and adjust for dynamic content- and conduct-related risks: The experience of our partner companies shows that services that enable online content and conduct face a diversity of risks, so that the proposed threshold for being a multi-risk service is unlikely to achieve the desired result of creating proportional levels of responsibility across the many thousands of services covered by the regulation.

Overly prescriptive codes may have unintended effects: Although there is significant overlap between the content of the DTSP Best Practices Framework and the proposed Illegal Content Codes of Practice, the level of prescription in the codes, their status as a safe harbor, and the burden of documenting alternative approaches will discourage services from using other measures that might be more effective. Our framework allows companies to use whatever combination of practices most effectively fulfills their overarching commitments to product development, governance, enforcement, improvement, and transparency. This helps ensure that our practices can evolve in the face of new risks and new technologies.

Rigorous evaluation of the maturity and effectiveness of practices offers a scalable and future-proof way forward: In the Safe Framework, it is the intensity and comprehensiveness of the assessment of those practices through which our approach is scaled. Our methodology allows services the ability to scale up or down their practices in response to identified risks, including the severity or frequency of particular harms occurring or potentially occurring via their products or services.

The importance of agreed terminology: We offer the definitions from our Trust & Safety Glossary of Terms as a starting point for aligning international efforts for online safety around shared terminology.