Legal expert: YouTube should have seen it coming

YouTube may have to change
YouTube may have to change

Law lecturer Dr Dinusha Mendis has told TechRadar that major sites should not have been surprised at MPs deciding that a more pro-active stance on videos and pictures needs to be taken.

The Select Committee looking into internet safety has insisted that the likes of YouTube need to be much quicker to take down unsuitable material, rather than relying on the current report system.

Dr Mendis – who lectures at University of Central Lancashire – believes that major companies should have expected this after years of taking a passive approach to moderation of user generated content.

"I don't think media sites such as YouTube Flickr etc will react or should react with surprise," Dr Mendis told TechRadar.

"As the report states, 'the Internet represents huge opportunity and risk' and whilst the Internet brings with it some positive advantages, it has done so at the cost of negative consequences - to children (and also to copyright owners).

"It would have only been a matter of time before the above named sites and similar others would have come under fire for the kind of content they host, albeit, complicated by the fact that they are 'user-generated content'".

Writing on the wall

Dr Mendis believes that the writing has been on the wall for a long time – and that ISPs acceptance of some degree of responsibility indicates a new path.

"Last week, leading ISPs BT, Carphone Warehouse, Virgin, BSkyB, Orange and Tiscali accepted responsibility to work together with the Government on illegal file-sharing - to protect right holders by writing to 1,000 infringing subscribers a week for a three-month trial period.

"In the same vein, children should also be protected and it should come as no surprise that the Government is recommending pro-active review of content for sites hosting user-generated content."

The report suggests that a self regulatory system should be put in place, something that Dr Mendis thinks is a sensible idea.

Growing concerns

"Since the dawn of the new millennium, there have been growing concerns surrounding children, through their exposure to technology, particularly to the Internet.

"Recognising the potential of the serious harm Internet sites, chat rooms for example could pose, the UK went on to enforce the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the effects of this law enforcement has been successful.

"However, in the context of media sites, I am not very sure whether statutory regulation is the answer - for two reasons: practical and enforcement.

"I am in agreement with the Government report that what is necessary is tighter self-regulation assisted by the potential establishment of a self-regulatory body - UK Council for Child Internet Safety."

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.