UK Government plans to create a new internet regulator to fine technology firms that fail to take down illegal material and hate speech within hours
- A new regulatory framework for online ‘social harms’ is scheduled for this winter
- Technology companies would be accountable for content on their websites
- This would involve the creation of a new body, equivalent to Ofcom, for the web
- Ofcom’s chief believes tech giants should be subject to the same rules as TV
The UK Government is working on plans to set up an internet regulator that would hold technology companies accountable for content published on their websites.
If established, the new regulatory body could sanction sites that fail to take down illegal material and hate speech within hours.
Among the proposals are age verification for users of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This is not the first time in recent days that calls have been made for tougher regulation of the internet.
The chief executive of Ofcom – which already regulates TV, radio and broadband in the UK – publicly called for similar measures on Tuesday.
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The UK Government is working on plans to set up an internet regulator that would hold technology companies accountable for content published on their websites (stock image)
WHAT ARE THE NEW PROPOSED RULES?
- Strict new ‘takedown times’ forcing websites to remove illegal hate speech
- Fines if firms fail to meet them
- Age verification checks on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Buzzfeed said it had obtained details of the proposals, which would be put out for consultation later in the year. It did not say where it got the proposals from.
Legislation is being drafted by the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), according to the site.
A new regulatory framework for online ‘social harms’, scheduled to be announced this winter, would be created.
This would also involve the creation of a new body, equivalent to Ofcom, for social media and other sites.
The details are reportedly being considered by home secretary Sajid Javid and culture secretary Jeremy Wright.
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Traditional broadcasters like the BBC and ITV are bound by strict rules on what they can publish, but social media giants like Facebook , Twitter and YouTube are ‘unregulated’ (stock image)
Ofcom Chief executive Sharon White said on Tuesday that she believes tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube should be subject to the same rules as the BBC and ITV.
She also claimed that one in five Britons have been harmed by the internet and social media because of an online ‘standards lottery’ and wants new ‘strong audience protections’.
Experts warned it would have too much power if handed the job, however.
Ofcom chief executive Sharon White (pictured) has called for stricter independent regulation of the internet. Experts warned it would have too much power if handed the job, however
WHAT HAVE OTHERS SAID ABOUT FACEBOOK’S NEGATIVE IMPACTS ON ITS USERS?
Ex-Google and Facebook workers are campaigning to raise awareness of the negative effects of using products made by their former employers.
Among their concerns are addiction to technology and its impact on individuals, particularly children and younger users, as well as society as a whole.
Tristan Harris, a former in-house ethicist at Google is spearheading the new group, called the Center for Humane Technology.
The newly-launched initiative, which is working with the nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, is planning to lobby the United States government over tech addiction.
It is also undertaking an advertising campaign aimed at 55,000 public schools in the US, to raise awareness with parents, students and teachers over its concerns.
These include the mental health effects of overuse of social media, including depression, stress, anxiety, self-image and self-worth, according to the group’s website.
The campaign, called The Truth About Tech, also seeks to address more wide-ranging problems caused by technology, including its power to influence our relationships and even our political beliefs.
Speaking to the New York Times Mr Harris, said: ‘We were on the inside. We know what the companies measure. We know how they talk, and we know how the engineering works.
‘The largest supercomputers in the world are inside of two companies — Google and Facebook — and where are we pointing them?
‘We’re pointing them at people’s brains, at children.’
In December 2017, former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya also spoke out against the social network he helped to create, saying it is ‘ripping society apart’.
Mr Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels ‘tremendous guilt’ for the influence Facebook has had and its ability to manipulate users.
He also suggested users take a break from using social media altogether.
An Ofcom spokesman denied the quango is trying to grab new powers to tackle the internet.
But Mrs White’s words reveal the broadcasting watchdog is keen to help the Government shape the future of internet regulation.
And experts believe they could be given some or all of the powers because of the amount of time and cash needed to set up a brand new regulator.
Rachel Coldicutt, chief executive of think tank DotEveryone, told Sky News: ‘The problem with a single body is that the internet touches everything, so a single regulator would have enormous power’.
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