UK Regulator Gets New Powers to Take on Facebook, Twitter

Ofcom to become UK Internet regulator

Ofcom to become UK Internet regulator

As the Financial Times reports, the move follows the United Kingdom government's 'Online Harms' regulation.

However, the Internet Association, the trade body which represents internet firms including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, said the companies were keen for further debate over what it called "issues of concern", including potential punishments for not removing content which could be considered harmful but is not illegal.

"With Ofcom at the helm of a proportionate and strong regulatory regime, we have an incredible opportunity to lead the world in building a thriving digital economy, driven by groundbreaking technology, that is trusted by and protects everyone in the United Kingdom", said the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS), Nicky Morgan.

Among the ideas mooted in the white paper were to give regulators the power to levy "substantial fines" on companies that don't heed "clear standards" or can't show they are meeting their duty of care to their users.

The report details the government's follow-up plans to its white paper on online harms last April, which promised to make companies more responsible for their users' safety online.

Germany introduced tough regulations on social media in 2018, which can see platforms fined if they do not review and remove illegal content within 24 hours of it being posted.

"We called for the new regulator to be completely independent from Government which is why we demanded a right of veto over the appointment".

Scott Morrison, Director at Berkeley Research Group, believes Ofcom may not find its new, extended role plain sailing.

Indeed, the IA also warned that the measures could have serious consequences for online freedom of expression.

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The U.K.is trying to get to grips with ungoverned areas of the internet as it increasingly dominates modern life and exposes children in particular to harmful experiences, including abuse, bullying and terrorist material.

Social media platforms have turned into a hotspot for harmful content.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the United Kingdom charity responsible for finding and removing images of child sexual abuse from the internet, said it is pleased to see protection for children "being put front and centre of Government policy". The government said it would publish a full response to the consultation in the spring, but did not give a timeline for legislation.

As well as the digital services tax plan, last month, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham unveiled a code of conduct created to protect children's data online so they're less exposed to damaging content.

The Government has repeatedly set out its undoubtedly laudable aim of making the United Kingdom "the safest place in the world to be online" but turning such an ambition into a reality is no easy task.

Lord Burns has therefore agreed to step down to enable a new Chair to be in place by the end of this year.

"The regulator must take a muscular approach and be able to enforce change through sanctions that bite".

"I would expect the DCMS Committee to be given the opportunity to scrutinise all aspects of the forthcoming Bill before it becomes law".

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