Online Harms

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Online harms encompass are those people face regarding safety, health or security. Some harms have clear statutory meanings (e.g., terrorist content, hate crimes), while others have less clear meanings (e.g., coercive behavior, disinformation).[1]

Modern regulations and regulatory authorities ensure that organizations exercise a duty of care proportional to the scale, likelihood and severity of the harm in question.[2]

Some online harms are those suffered by organizations as opposed to individuals (e.g., breaches of intellectual property rights, publisher fraud).[3]

While there is no global list of online harms, the following is an incomplete list of frequent harms mentioned in regulations and academic research:

  • Public Safety
    • Economic harm
      • Misleading and deceptive practices or theft
      • Fraud
      • Sale of illegal goods or services
      • Breaches of intellectual property rights
      • Data and cyber security breaches or hacking
      • Illegal anticompetitive practices
    • Information access harm
      • Illegal restrictions on freedom of speech and expression
      • Censorship
  • Public Health
    • Physical harm
      • Publishing false or misleading medical information
      • Child abuse
      • Sexual exploitation
      • Slavery
      • Encouraging self-harm
      • Encouraging harm of others and incitement of violence
    • Psychological harm
      • Breaches of data protection or consumer protection laws
      • Exposing age-inappropriate features, functions or content to minors
      • Discriminating against protected classes
      • Hate crimes and the intentional infliction of emotional harm
      • Consumer confidentiality
        • Identifier-focused harms, such as re-identification of pseudonymous information without appropriate notice and consent
        • Information-focused harms, such as unacceptable use of sensitive information without appropriate notice and consent
  • National Security
    • Publishing illegal terrorist content or facilitating terrorist activity

See Also