The government introduced legislation in autumn 2020 giving Ofcom powers to regulate UK-based video-sharing platforms. These powers came into force on 1 November 2020.
Under the new regulations, VSPs must have measures in place to protect children from potentially harmful content and all users from criminal content, and incitement to hatred and violence. VSPs will also need to make sure standards around advertising are met.
For more information on the regulations, read our guide (PDF, 237.9 KB).
Video-sharing platforms are a type of online video service. They allow users to upload and share videos with other people and engage with a wide range of content and social features.
The UK Government introduced new legislation in autumn 2020 giving Ofcom powers to regulate UK-based video-sharing platforms. These powers came into force on 1 November 2020.
Our job is to make sure VSPs which fall within our jurisdiction take appropriate measures to protect children from potentially harmful content and all users from illegal content and incitement to hatred and violence.
We’ll be developing regulatory guidance on the risks of harm to users and the measures VSPs should take to mitigate them. We expect to consult on this guidance in early 2021 and publish our final guidance in summer 2021.
You can read more about our approach in our short guide (PDF, 237.9 KB).
Only a handful of VSPs are UK-based and will be within Ofcom’s scope of regulation. Services will usually be regulated by the EU member state in which they are based.
That means we won’t be responsible for regulating many well-known services such as YouTube and Facebook. These are likely to fall within Irish jurisdiction because of where their European centre of activities is.
We currently expect a small handful of VSP services to fall within our jurisdiction, including Twitch and Vimeo. VSPs must self-assess whether they fall under the regulations and come under UK jurisdiction, and they then must notify Ofcom by 6 May 2021. We’ll be publishing guidance to help them do this later this year.
If VSPs break the rules we can enforce a financial penalty of up to 5% of their qualifying revenue or £250k (whichever is greater).
No. Freedom of expression is central to our democracy, values and modern society. We do not have powers or duties to moderate content – such as removing individual videos. Our role is to make sure regulated services are taking the appropriate steps to protect their users from harmful content, such as incitement to hatred and violence.
We’ll be making sure the measures VSPs adopt to protect users are appropriate and proportionate, taking into account the legitimate interests at stake including the right to freedom of information. If the measures taken by platforms are found not to be not effective in protecting users from harmful content, we’ll take action, including formal enforcement action when appropriate.
While Ofcom is the regulator of video sharing platforms from 1 November 2020, we are currently in the implementation period of the regime until our formal guidance is published next year.
During this implementation period, Ofcom will be regularly engaging with video sharing platforms and the wider industry, other regulators, and consumer groups and charities. We will also be conducting ongoing research on user experiences.
We’ll establish which VSPs fall within Ofcom’s jurisdiction by Spring next year, at which point we will consider complaints from the public about these services. Our role is to make sure providers have appropriate measures in place to protect users. Complaints from the public will help identify potential issues with compliance but we do not resolve individual complaints.
Users should always complain directly to the video-sharing platform in question if they have concerns about harmful content on the platform.
Regulation of UK-based video-sharing platforms is temporary. It will be in place until the Government’s proposed new online harms regime comes into force. The Government’s broader online harms legislation is expected to apply to a much wider range of online services, including services which are not based in the UK. Earlier this year, the Government said it is minded to appoint Ofcom as the online harms regulator.
You can read about the Government’s plans in its Online Harms White Paper.