Science-Technology, Europe

UK unveils new online safety measures

Measures include appointment of watchdog to monitor terrorism and child abuse on internet

Ahmet Gürhan Kartal   | 08.04.2019
UK unveils new online safety measures

LONDON 

The British government on Monday unveiled new online safety measures that include “heavy fines” on technology companies, if they fail to protect their users from harmful content.

“Social media firms must abide by mandatory “duty of care” to protect users and could face heavy fines if they fail to deliver,” according to a press release issued by the government.

The press release said that an “independent regulator will be appointed to enforce stringent new standards”.

The social media companies and tech firms “will be legally required to protect their users and face tough penalties if they do not comply,” it added.

The new regulations will “require companies to take reasonable steps to keep their users safe and tackle illegal and harmful activity on their services,” the government said.

“The internet can be brilliant at connecting people across the world - but for too long these companies have not done enough to protect users, especially children and young people, from harmful content,” Prime Minister Theresa May said.

“That is not good enough, and it is time to do things differently. We have listened to campaigners and parents, and are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe,” she added.

“Online companies must start taking responsibility for their platforms, and help restore public trust in this technology.”

May said a range of issues will be tackled “including inciting violence and violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material.”

“There will be stringent requirements for companies to take even tougher action to ensure they tackle terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse content,” she said.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “The tech giants and social media companies have a moral duty to protect the young people they profit from.

“Despite our repeated calls to action, harmful and illegal content – including child abuse and terrorism - is still too readily available online,” Sajid said.

“That is why we are forcing these firms to clean up their act once and for all,” he added.

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