Culture Media and Sport Committee report on Harmful content in Internet and video games
One thing that struck me is their insistence that Internet companies improve their proactivity in reviewing user-generated content, preferably before it is available for public consumption. However, they mention that:
Some providers claim that the provisions of the E-Commerce Directive restrict their ability to take down material before there have been complaints about it. Under regulation 17 of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 (which transpose the Directive into UK law), companies that transmit Internet content on behalf of others (such as a user’s profile page on a social networking site) cannot be held liable for anything illegal about the content if they did not initiate the transmission, select the receiver, or select or modify the information contained in the transmission. Nor is a service which hosts Internet content liable for damages or for any criminal sanction as a result of that storage if they do not have “actual knowledge” of unlawful activity or information and if, on becoming aware of such activity, they act “expeditiously” to remove or to disable access to the information.
It is easier for the host to avoid liability for defamation or anything unlawful if there is no moderation of user generated content prior to it becoming available to the public, provided there is a process for the quick removal of offending content. Moderating content makes the host liable!
An unintended consequence of the law, to be sure, but obviously something that must be kept in mind.