Repeal of the VSP regime: what you need to know

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 fails 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.

When the transition period ends, the OS Act will fully replace the VSP regime

The Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology will decide the date at which the transition period ends and the VSP rules are finally repealed. They will set out the date in secondary legislation.

After this date, pre-existing, UK-established VSPs will be regulated in the UK under the OS Act – all their new online safety duties will apply. But Ofcom will still have the power to continue any enforcement cases with VSPs that are ongoing at the date of repeal.

The Secretary of State must give platforms at least six months’ notice of the repeal date. The Government’s priority is to maintain protections, while also minimising the burden on regulated platforms and Ofcom. We will work closely with the Government to ensure that there is support for services when they move between the regimes.

Regulated services will be charged from 2025-26 or later

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 from the financial year 2025-26 or later – as long as they are not otherwise exempt.

During the transition period, existing VSP-only providers, and providers for whom the VSP is a dissociable part of their service, will not have to pay fees in respect of VSP-only services, or the dissociable parts of their services that are VSPs, as applicable.

Providers must carry out risk assessments but deadlines are to be confirmed

The Secretary of State has powers to make secondary legislation to set out the timing for when VSP providers will need to conduct risk assessments and the child access assessment (CAA). Our approach to implementing the OS Act explains these assessments in more detail.

VSPs will have at least three months to carry out each assessment, the same as other regulated services. The precise timing for when they will have to do this will depend on what assessment start date is specified in the secondary legislation, and whether or not Ofcom has issued the applicable risk assessment or CAA guidance by the specified date. We will provide more information when the likely timings are clearer.

If the VSP is a dissociable section of a larger service, another part of which qualifies as a regulated service under the OS Act, then the risk assessments and CAA for the non-VSP part will have to be carried out at the same time as for any other regulated service in scope of the online safety regime.

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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