The regulator appears to be moving relatively cautiously in taking up its new responsibilities, with the draft code on illegal content frequently citing a lack of data or evidence to justify preliminary decisions to not recommend certain types of risk mitigations — such as Ofcom not proposing hash matching for detecting terrorism content; nor recommending the use of AI to detect previously unknown illegal content.
Although it notes that such decisions could change in future as it gathers more evidence (and, doubtless, as available technologies change).
It also acknowledges the novelty of the endeavour, i.e. attempting to regulate something as sweeping and subjective as online safety/harm, saying it wants its first codes to be a foundation it builds on, including via a regular process of review — suggesting the guidance will shift and develop as the oversight process matures.
“Recognising that we are developing a new and novel set of regulations for a sector without previous direct regulation of this kind, and that our existing evidence base is currently limited in some areas, these first Codes represent a basis on which to build, through both subsequent iterations of our Codes and our upcoming consultation on the Protection of Children,” Ofcom writes. “In this vein, our first proposed Codes include measures aimed at proper governance and accountability for online safety, which are aimed at embedding a culture of safety into organisational design and iterating and improving upon safety systems and processes over time.”