The UK government has announced that it will be introducing new laws that’ll apply to social media firms in a bid to make the internet a bit safer. Companies that do not follow the rules can be fined £18 million or 10% of turnover, whichever is higher, could also see their websites blocked and the government will even be allowed to hold senior managers liable.
The new laws are a response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation and make social media firms responsible for tackling both legal and illegal harms. They are being instituted in order to protect children using online services. The government has made clear that while the rules apply to sites that let people post content, articles and comments sections on news websites will be exempt from the rules in a bid to protect free speech.
Some of the material which the government said will need to be removed from platforms include child sexual abuse and terrorist material as well as content promoting suicide. With regards to suicide, the government is working with the Law Commission on whether the promotion of self-harm should be made illegal.
As mentioned earlier, some legal content will also be banned from platforms because the government believes that such content could cause “significant physical or psychological harm to adults.” Content the government has in mind includes dangerous disinformation and misinformation.
The new laws, which will be enforced by Ofcom, will be introduced next year in an Online Safety Bill. With the government holding a majority of seats, there’s a very good chance of these laws being passed by the parliament.