IMPRESS responds to the Online Harms White Paper consultation: ‘Distinction between news publishers and platforms needs to be clearer to protect press freedom and the plurality and diversity of the media economy’

IMPRESS submitted its response to the government’s open consultation regarding the Online Harms White Paper, which sets out the government’s plans for online safety measures.

>> Read IMPRESS submission in full.

uilding on its expertise as an independent self-regulatory body for the press with 125+ regulated publications, IMPRESS draws attention to the fact that news publishers may be directly or indirectly affected by the proposals in the white paper. IMPRESS has also expressed concerns about the potential effects on press freedom and the broader framework for news media regulation in the UK.

In its submission, IMPRESS encourages the government to ensure that any future regulatory framework:

  • Is tightly focused on the procedural responsibilities of platforms;
  • Is operationally independent of government and Parliament; and
  • Applies only to companies whose dominant purpose is to provide social media platforms, and not to news publishers.

IMPRESS considers that the distinction between these two is not sufficiently clear on the white paper and is also not so cut and dry in our increasingly converged media ecosystem.

Jonathan Heawood, CEO of IMPRESS, said: ‘A regulatory framework that fails to differentiate between publishers and platforms would harm the plurality and diversity of the media economy, and limit freedom of expression.’

IMPRESS also highlights the potential lack of compatibility of the wide range of harms alleged to flow from disinformation and online manipulation with international human rights and urges the government to work with existing regulators to ensure that there is a coherent legal and regulatory framework for political communications across all forms of media, and not just social media.

IMPRESS will continue to engage with the government to ensure that public interest journalism is not unduly affected by any future legislation.

>> Read IMPRESS submission in full.


Media enquiries:

Clara Aguirre: / 020 3325 4290


The Independent Monitor for the Press. IMPRESS regulates 125+ publications in the UK. We provide publishers and journalists with the protection and support they need to do their job. We offer complaints adjudication, free arbitration, a comprehensive insurance scheme and a progressive Standards Code, as well as an open code review process in which all members of the public can take part. We work in partnership with the public, publishers and key stakeholders to raise the standards of journalism.

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