The UK Government will be Planning To Set Up A Regulator For The Internet

The UK government will be preparing to establish a completely new internet regulator in which could make tech firms liable for content published on their platforms as well as possess the power to sanction companies in which fail to take down illegal material as well as hate speech within hours, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

Under legislation being drafted by the Home Office as well as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media as well as Sport (DCMS) due to be announced This specific winter, a completely new regulatory framework for online “social harms” could be created.

BuzzFeed News has obtained details of the proposals, which could see the establishment of an internet regulator similar to Ofcom, which regulates broadcasters, telecoms, as well as postal communications.

Home secretary Sajid Javid as well as culture secretary Jeremy Wright are considering the introduction of a mandatory code of practice for social media platforms as well as strict completely new rules such as “takedown times” forcing websites to remove illegal hate speech within a set timeframe or face penalties.

Ministers are also looking at implementing age verification for users of Facebook, Twitter, as well as Instagram.

A promise to regulate the internet was buried at the back of the Conservative manifesto for last year’s general election. “Some people say in which the item will be not for government to regulate when the item comes to technology as well as the internet,” the manifesto stated. “We disagree.”

The completely new proposals are still from the development stage as well as are due to be put out for consultation later This specific year. A spokesperson for the government confirmed the item will be “considering all options”, including a regulator.

The planned regulator could have powers to impose punitive sanctions on social media platforms in which fail to remove terrorist content, child abuse images, or hate speech, as well as enforcing completely new regulations on non-illegal content as well as behaviour online.

The rules for what constitutes non-illegal content will be the subject of what will be likely to be a hotly debated consultation. The regulator could be ultimately accountable to parliament.

BuzzFeed News has also been told ministers are looking at creating a second completely new regulator for online advertising. Its powers could include a crackdown on online advertisements for food as well as soft drink products in which are high in salt, fat, or sugar.

Currently, online advertisements are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Government sources have indicated in which their frustration in which the tech industry has failed to take voluntary action to promote online safety has led them to pursue a mandatory approach.

When the previous culture secretary, Matt Hancock, invited 14 tech companies in for talks on online safety earlier This specific year, only four firms turned up.

Ministers have concluded in which the voluntary approach only achieved progress that has a few tech giants over specific issues such as terrorist content, as well as in which completely new laws are required to force smaller as well as medium-sized social media platforms to take action against a wider range of content.

This specific will involve producing one particular legal framework for internet safety as well as increasing the legal liability for sites in which provide a platform for illegal content.

Social media companies will be forced to sign up to a code of practice as well as completely new requirements to assist the police in investigating criminal activity online.

The government will be looking at legislation passed in Germany last year requiring social media platforms to remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours or face fines of up to 50 million euros.

The German law was vociferously opposed by human rights groups as well as industry representatives who warned the item could lead to censorship as well as an unmanageable burden on smaller websites.

the item encountered problems in its first few months when a satirical magazine as well as a political street artist had their content blocked.

The government will be set to introduce age verification for social media platforms, after ministers raised concerns in which children are currently only required to tick a box saying they are over the age of 13.

DCMS has previously indicated in which the item could seek to impose mandatory transparency reports on social media platforms as well as implement the recommendations of the Law Commission review into online communications.

the item has also introduced legislation to block pornography sites in which refuse to use age verification controls.

The proposal for a completely new regulator of online social harms will raise significant questions about the government’s ability to make tech firms based outside the UK liable for content in which users post on their platforms, how hate speech will be sanctioned, as well as how to determine what non-illegal content merits state-backed oversight.

BuzzFeed News understands concerns have been raised in Whitehall in which the regulation of non-illegal content will spark opposition through free speech campaigners as well as MPs.

There are also fears internally in which some of the measures being considered, including blocking websites in which do not adhere to the completely new regulations, are so draconian in which they will generate considerable opposition.

On Tuesday, the head of Ofcom Sharon White called for tech companies to be regulated from the same way as the mobile phone as well as broadband industries.

“The boundaries between broadcasting as well as the online world are being redrawn. This specific has implications for the public’s understanding of what protections apply online, versus traditional media,” White said, arguing in which “certain principles through broadcasting regulation could be relevant as policymakers consider issues around online protection”.

yet doubts have long been raised inside the tech industry as to how state-backed regulation of social media could work, the resources the item could require to do so successfully, as well as whether the item will be even possible to impose a legal framework on firms headquartered from the US as well as elsewhere.

A government spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News in which the plans could be unveiled later This specific year. “This specific winter we will publish a White Paper, setting out completely new laws to tackle the full range of online harms as well as set clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe,” they said. “We are considering all options, including what legislation will be necessary as well as whether a regulator will be needed.”

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