A report from CNBC has highlighted comments made by UK Ofcom chief executive Melanie Dawes regarding the self-regulation of the metaverse and stated that tech giants such as Meta and Microsoft would be subjected to rules and regulations that protect users from online harm.
Dawes stated that “I’m not sure I really see that ‘self-regulatory phase,’ to be honest, existing from a U.K. Perspective. If you’ve got young people in an environment where there’s user-generated content according to the scope of the bill then that will already be caught by the Online Safety Bill”.
The Online Safety Bill is committed to making online spaces safer while also defending the right to free expression. Platforms that fail to protect their users will need to answer to regulators and could potentially face fines up to ten per cent of their revenues or even in serious cases find their services blocked. The bill has a keen focus on protecting young children online, with platforms needing to protect these users from material that, while being legal, could be highly disturbing for young minds such as content that shows self-harm.
A new age of media
Social Media platforms and the internet, in general, have had a huge impact on the global population as the range of content available to users is near endless. This is why regulation bills such as this have been created to attempt to ensure that platforms are able to provide their services in a way that can protect users from harmful content. The bill has been the subject of some controversy however as digital rights activists fear that too many restrictions could be placed on individuals and impact their freedom of expression.
Dawes notes that there “are some differences” regarding the metaverse compared to more “traditional” social media, with the nature of VR services having a more immersive nature and the issue of determining what a child may perhaps actually be experiencing once they have a VR headset on.
Dawes states that “You do need moderation to make sure that you manage these things because they’ve happened at such scale. I think that things like metaverses are adding intensity into that mix.” Dawes expressed that the metaverse would not be legally immune to the new rules of the Online Safety Bill and that the UK is “in good stead” to regulate the metaverse.