Repeal of the VSP regime: what you need to know

Published: 11 January 2024
Last updated: 11 January 2024

This page explains the repeal of the video-sharing platform (VSP) regime and what it means for providers.

In November 2020, the UK Government introduced rules for VSPs that are established in the UK. We sometimes refer to these rules as the 'VSP regime'.

You can find more information about what we mean by the VSP regime, and how we regulate VSPs on our website.

On 26 October 2023, the Online Safety Act (‘the OS Act’) received Royal Assent. The OS Act sets out the process for repealing the VSP regime.

You can read the text of the OS Act and explanatory notes on the website.

  • Schedule 17 sets out how VSPs will move from being regulated under the VSP regime to being regulated under the OS Act.
  • Schedule 3, Part 3 sets out details of the timings for when VSPs providers will need to begin conducting the risk assessments that will be required under the OS Act.

Below we summarise the repeal provisions and next steps for VSP providers. Please note that it is for the UK Government to decide when exactly the repeal will happen, so this information could change over the coming months.

UK-established VSPs are now in a transition period

On 10 January 2024, all pre-existing, UK-established VSPs (in other words, platforms that meet the scope and jurisdiction criteria under Part 4B of the Communications Act 2003) entered a transition period.

If your platform met the notification criteria just before the transition period began, then you are now regulated under both the VSP regime and the OS Act – but you won't have to meet most OS Act duties until the end of the transition period. You still have some duties under the OS Act, such as:

  • to comply with demands for information issued by Ofcom; and
  • to notify for fees.

You should make sure you notify your service to Ofcom, if you haven't already.

If you only started providing your service on or after 10 January 2024, then you are only regulated under the OS Act (which applies in full). The VSP regime does not apply to you, and you don't need to notify your service to Ofcom.

During the transition period, Ofcom will continue to regulate UK-established VSPs

We will still have powers to regulate existing, UK-established VSPs under the current rules. This includes the power to take enforcement action against any provider that failed to notify.

If a VSP is a dissociable section (in other words, a separable part) of a larger service, another part of which qualifies as a regulated service under the OS Act, then the exemption will only apply to the VSP part of the service. During the transition period, the non-VSP part of the service will be treated like any other regulated service in scope of the OS Act. More information is available in our guidance on who needs to notify to Ofcom.

Under the transitional provisions, pre-existing VSPs are subject to the online safety fees notification requirements of Section 83 of the OS Act. In relation to the duty to pay fees, ‘exempt providers’ as such they are defined in paragraph 24 of Schedule 17 to the OS Act, do not have to pay fees in relation to a transitional charging year. These are deemed ‘exempt providers’ and section 84 and Schedule 10 do not apply to them in respect of a transitional charging year.

Regulated services will be charged

On 19 April 2023, the Government published a Written Ministerial Statement. This explained that regulated services with revenue at or above a set threshold are expected to be charged if they are not otherwise exempt.

When the transition period ends, pre-existing VSPs will be regulated in the UK under the OS Act, and the fees regime will apply to them in the same way as to other providers of regulated services under the OS Act. Ofcom will publish an update on timings in respect of fees in due course.

Providers must carry out risk assessments

On 30 April 2024 the Secretary of State laid a statutory instrument in Parliament which sets 2 September 2024 as the ‘assessment start date’. This is the date from which providers of pre-existing VSP services will need to carry out risk assessments of their services in line with the duties set out in the OS Act. 

These risk assessments are:

  • illegal harms risk assessments;
  • children’s access risk assessments; and
  • if applicable, children’s risk assessments. 

Services will also need to complete a child access assessment (CAA). Our approach to implementing the OS Act explains these assessments in more detail and when we expect to publish the guidance for each. 
Pre-existing VSPs must complete each assessment within three months of the date on which the associated guidance is published. However, if Ofcom’s guidance is published before the assessment start date, the relevant assessment must be completed within three months of 2 September 2024. 
The assessment start date does not apply to pre-existing VSPs that are a dissociable section of a larger service, another part of which qualifies as a regulated service under the OS Act. For these, the timing is the same as for other regulated services in scope of the OS Act: each assessment has to be completed within three months of the date on which the associated guidance is published – and it must cover both the pre-existing VSP part and the non-VSP part of the service.

The Government will give providers at least six months' notice of the final repeal date

After Ofcom’s codes for protection of children come into force (date to be confirmed), the Secretary of State will lay a second and final statutory instrument before Parliament, giving platforms at least six months’ notice of the final VSP repeal date. At this point the current transition period will end and pre-existing VSPs will become fully subject to the OS Act.

Ofcom will help VSP providers pick up their online safety duties

We will work closely with providers to help them understand:

  • when the transition and repeal will take place; and
  • what their obligations will be under the OS Act.

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