The UK government has published its long-delayed draft online safety law proposing significant fines for companies not dealing with online abuse. Under the law, senior executives can also be prosecuted and some websites can be blocked.
Online safety legislation (also known as Online Harms) aims to create a framework for online regulation that upholds freedom of expression while protecting the Internet from child predators, extremists and other evil actors – a tricky balance for governments and social media companies to to discontinue.
The bill was announced at the Queen’s speech yesterday as a priority for Parliament in the coming year. Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “It is time for technology companies to be held accountable and to protect the British people from harm. If they don’t, they will be penalized.
The bill imposes a duty of care on social media companies and forces them to take timely action to remove illegal content – such as death threats, rape threats and terrorist propaganda – as well as offensive content that falls below the crime threshold. The companies will take action.
take action to remove and limit the distribution of the most serious content (defined as terrorist material, suicide content and child sexual abuse), which must also be reported to law enforcement agencies. with a series of sanctions from Of com, which gains regulatory authority.
Of com could block access to their sites; fine them up to 10 percent of annual sales or £ 18 million (whichever is higher), and senior managers could be held criminally liable for failure to comply with the duty of care.
“The bill contains reserved powers for Of com to take criminal action against named senior executives whose companies fail to comply with Of com’s requests for information,” the government said in a statement.
“These will be introduced if technology companies fail to fulfill their new responsibilities.” Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “Today, the UK is showing global leadership with our groundbreaking laws to usher in a new era of technology liability and bring fairness and accountability to the online world.
“It means that a 13-year-old no longer has access to pornographic images on Twitter. YouTube should not recommend videos promoting terrorist ideologies.
Criminal anti-Semitic posts will have to be removed immediately, while platforms will have to stop the excruciating level of abuse that many women face in almost every online environment.
And of course, this legislation ensures that the internet is not a safe space for horrors such as child sexual abuse or terrorism. Companies will also have a legal obligation to protect free speech and recover material that has been inappropriately removed.
They will be prohibited from discriminating against certain political views and held accountable for the arbitrary removal of journalistic content. also includes provisions to tackle online scams, requiring companies to take responsibility for fraudulent user-generated content ranging from romantic scams to fake investment opportunities.
A review of the new regulations is scheduled for two years after its introduction.
Labor described the proposed regulation as “watered down and incomplete”. Shadow culture Jo Stevens noted, “There is little incentive for companies to prevent their platforms from being used for malicious practices.
The bill, which takes the government more than five years from its first promise to act, is a missed opportunity to pass future-proof legislation to provide an effective and comprehensive regulatory framework to keep people safe online.
“Social media companies have been criticized for failing to address abuse, for demonstrably arbitrary removal of legal content (such as breastfeeding photos) and for capitulating to censorship authorities by extinguishing critical statements.
Facebook is trying out definitive statements about it. content moderation to an independent supervisory committee of experts.