LONDON – The UK Government is proposing that regulator, Ofcom, becomes an online harms regulator, overseeing social media firms. It put forward a draft of its ideas for consultation on Wednesday.
Holding Tech Firms to Account for Terrorist and Child Abuse Content
Ofcom is the UK’s telecoms and media regulator. UK Digital Secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan and Home Secretary Priti Patel, announced the consultation. They suggested that companies that allow user generated content would have a statutory duty of care to protect their users from harmful and illegal terrorist and child abuse content. They said it would apply to about five percent of UK businesses. It would, of course, apply to almost all big tech firms, including Google and Facebook. The lawmakers insisted that freedom of speech will also be protected.
“It is incumbent on tech firms to balance issues of privacy and technological advances with child protection,” said Ms. Patel. “That’s why it is right that we have a strong regulator to ensure social media firms fulfil their vital responsibility to vulnerable users.”
Baroness Morgan said:
We will give the regulator the powers it needs to lead the fight for an internet that remains vibrant and open but with the protections, accountability and transparency people deserve.
In 2019, the UK government also put forward similar proposals to tackle online harms. The government said it will publish the result of the latest consultation in Spring 2020.