Tech Firms to Face Fine if Unsuccessful With Curbing Illegal Content
Britain was set to slap three social media giants with a penalty should they fail to curb the spread of illegal content on their platforms.
According to a report by Al Jazeera, British regulator Ofcom said that it was poised to slap technology firms such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok with up to 18 million pounds ($24 million) fine or 10% of their global turnover, whichever is higher if they fail to limit or remove the spread of illegal content under Britain laws proposed on Tuesday.
The United Kingdom also sought for the technology giants to do more with protecting children from being exposed to grooming, pornography, and bullying to ensure their safety online now that people are more exposed to technology amid the global pandemic that limits them from going outdoors.
Governments are scrambling to craft measures to better control illegal or dangerous content on social media, with the European Union set to unveil its own package on Tuesday.
“We are entering a new age of accountability for tech to protect children and vulnerable users, to restore trust in this industry, and to enshrine in law safeguards for free speech,” Britain Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden was quoted as saying in the report.
The UK’s new rules which will be introduced in legislation next year could lead to sites that break the rules being blocked and senior managers held liable for the content.
Popular platforms will also be required to have clear policies for content that while not illegal may cause harm such as disseminating misinformation about the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.
Dowden said that the framework would give large digital businesses “robust rules” to follow.
For their part, Google and Facebook said that they would work with governments on the regulations and assured that they have implemented safety measures, and changed policies and operations to better tackle the issue.
Google’s YouTube UK Managing Director Ben McOwen Wilson was quoted as saying that the safety of the online community was the company’s top priority, and “so we haven’t waited for legislation to act.”
“We have worked with industry, community groups, and the government to tackle harmful content,” he added.
TikTok, one of the fastest-growing technology platforms, said it was looking forward to reviewing the proposals and working with the government to ensure online safety.
“At TikTok, safety isn’t a bolt-on or a nice-to-have, it’s our starting point to building a creative, diverse community,” a spokesman said.
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