The UK government has proposed new internet safety laws last April 8, Monday. These stricter laws would impose penalties on technology firms, social media companies, and web hosting service providers using vps that expose their users to harmful content due to lack of protection in their systems.
As the number of internet users continues to grow, governments from all over the world are now faced with the huge problem of how to better control online content. This is because, today, damaging material found online has been linked to encouraging abuse or influencing and manipulating voters. Social media platforms were also found to contribute to the spread of online pornography.
The rapid improvements in technology have also reached young people, allowing them to have easy access to various types of uncensored content. This has become a growing concern worldwide. In Britain, this problem has heightened after the death of Molly Russell, a 14-year-old student who took her own life in 2017 after being exposed to online materials on depression and suicide.
Another alarming incident that has caused global concern is the mass shooting at a mosque in New Zealand, which was live streamed through a social media platform by the gunman. It took about 30 minutes and a thousand of views before such video was taken down since viewers did not immediately report the live broadcast. After this incident, the Australian government said it would impose fines on web hosting and social media companies and arrest executives who do not remove violent content “expeditiously.”
The UK government, in a policy paper, said it was looking at the possibility of blocking access to certain websites and imposing fines and liabilities on the people behind the management of tech companies that fail to limit the access and distribution of harmful content. A regulator to enforce the rules would also be set up.
According to an industry trade group called TechUK, the paper is a big step forward, but it needed to be firmed up since there were some aspects to the approach which were too vague. The effectivity, proportionality, and predictability of the new framework are important since not all online concerns could be addressed through regulation alone. Facebook is also open to working with the governments to ensure that regulations were effective and properly enforced.
UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, has acknowledged all the wonderful possibilities the Internet has given. It provides easier access to data and more convenient forms of communication. However, it has not provided enough protection to its users, especially the young ones. She said that it is about time to put a legal duty on internet companies to exercise the necessary care to keep people safe.
UK Daily Mail wrote that the British government will introduce internet safety laws which are designed to make the country the safest place to be online. A joint publication by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office on online harms also proposes new, stricter rules that would require companies to take responsibility for the content that appears on their services and the safety of their users. Punishing companies or blocking them from being accessed is suggested as penalties for the non-compliance with such rules.
A 12-week consultation will take place before the publication of a draft legislation by the ministers.