• Follow us

Social Media

UK sets out safety-focused plan to regulate internet firms – TechCrunch

The UK government has laid out proposals to regulate online and social media platforms, setting out the substance of its long-awaited White Paper on online harms today — and kicking off a public consultation.

The Online Harms White Paper is a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Home Office. The paper can be read in full here (PDF).

It follows the government announcement of a policy intent last May, and a string of domestic calls for greater regulation of the internet as politicians have responded to rising concern about the mental health impacts of online content.

The government is now proposing to put a mandatory duty of care on platforms to take reasonable steps to protect their users from a range of harms — including but not limited to illegal material such as terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse (which will be covered by further stringent requirements under the plan).

The approach is also intended to address a range of content and activity that’s deemed harmful.

Examples providing by the government of the sorts of broader harms it’s targeting include inciting violence and violent content; encouraging suicide; disinformation; cyber bullying; and inappropriate material being accessed by children.

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

We are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe.#OnlineSafety pic.twitter.com/6EDsaY3Ofr

— Theresa May (@theresa_may) April 8, 2019

Content promoting suicide has been thrown into the public spotlight in the UK in recent months, following media reports about a schoolgirl whose family found out she had been viewing pro-suicide content on Instagram after she killed herself.

The Facebook -owned platform subsequently agreed to change its policies towards suicide content, saying it would start censoring graphic images of self-harm, after pressure from ministers.

Commenting on the publication of the White Paper today, digital secretary Jeremy Wright said: “The era of self-regulation for online companies is over. Voluntary actions from industry to tackle online harms have not been applied consistently or gone far enough. Tech can be an incredible force for good and we want the sector to be part of the solution in protecting their users. However those that fail to do this will face tough action.

”We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to go online, and the best place to start and grow a digital business and our proposals for new laws will help make sure everyone in our country can enjoy the Internet safely.”

In another supporting statement Home Secretary Sajid Javid added: “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.

“That is why we are forcing these firms to clean up their act once and for all. I made it my mission to protect our young people – and we are now delivering on that promise.”

Children’s charity, the NSPCC, was among the sector bodies welcoming the proposal.

“This is a hugely significant commitment by the Government that once enacted, can make the UK a world pioneer in protecting children online,” wrote CEO Peter Wanless in a statement.

“For too long social networks have failed to prioritise children’s safety and left them exposed to grooming, abuse, and harmful content.  So it’s high time they were forced to act through this legally binding duty to protect children, backed up with hefty punishments if they fail to do so.”

Although the Internet Watch Foundation, which works to stop the spread of child exploitation imagery online, warned against unintended consequences from badly planned legislation — and urged the government to take a “balanced approach”.

The proposed laws would apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user generated content or interact with each other online — meaning companies both big and small.

Nor is it just social media platforms either, with file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines among those falling under the planned law’s remit.

The government says a new independent regulator will be introduced to ensure internet companies meet their responsibilities, with ministers consulting on whether this should be a new or existing body.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has been rumored as one possible contender, though the UK’s data watchdog, the ICO, has previously suggested it should be involved in any internet oversight given its responsibility for data protection and privacy. (According to the FT a hybrid entity combining the two is another possibility — although the newspaper reports that the government remains genuinely undecided on who the regulator will be.)

The future internet watchdog will be funded by industry in the medium term, with the government saying it’s exploring options such as an industry levy to put it on a sustainable footing.

On the enforcement front, the watchdog will be armed with a range of tools — with the government consulting on powers for it to issue substantial fines; block access to sites; and potentially to impose liability on individual members of senior management.

So there’s at least the prospect of a high profile social media CEO being threatened with UK jail time in future if they don’t do enough to remove harmful content.

On the financial penalties front, Wright suggested that the government is entertaining GDPR-level fines of as much as 4% of a company’s annual global turnover, speaking during an interview on Sky News…

The #OnlineHarms regulator should have teeth, says Jeremy Wright. Fines comparable to information commissioner's under GDPR – 4% of global turnover. Potentially makes individual managers liable. In extreme cases, decides whether websites should be allowed to operate in the UK… pic.twitter.com/gBMe6uUKie

— Alexander J. Martin (@AJMartinSky) April 8, 2019

Other elements of the proposed framework include giving the regulator the power to force tech companies to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address it; to compel companies to respond to users’ complaints and act to address them quickly; and to comply with codes of practice issued by the regulator, such as requirements to minimise the spread of misleading and harmful disinformation with dedicated fact checkers, particularly during election periods.

A long-running enquiry by a DCMS parliamentary committee into online disinformation last year, which was continuously frustrated in its attempts to get Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to testify before it, concluded with a laundry list of recommendations for tightening regulations around digital campaigning.

The committee also recommended clear legal liabilities for tech companies to act against “harmful or illegal content”, and suggested a levy on tech firms to support enhanced regulation.

Responding to the government’s White Paper in a statement today DCMS chair Damian Collins broadly welcomed the government’s proposals — though he also pressed for the future regulator to have the power to conduct its own investigations, rather than relying on self reporting by tech firms.

“We need a clear definition of how quickly social media companies should be required to take down harmful content, and this should include not only when it is referred to them by users, but also when it is easily within their power to discover this content for themselves,” Collins wrote.

“The regulator should also give guidance on the responsibilities of social media companies to ensure that their algorithms are not consistently directing users to harmful content.”

Another element of the government’s proposal is a “Safety by Design” framework that’s intended to help companies incorporate online safety features in new apps and platforms from the start.

The government also wants the regulator to head up a media literacy strategy that’s intended to equip people with the knowledge to recognise and deal with a range of deceptive and malicious behaviours online, such as catfishing, grooming and extremism.

It writes that the UK is committed to a free, open and secure internet — and makes a point of noting that the watchdog will have a legal duty to pay “due regard” to innovation, and also to protect users’ rights online by paying particular mindful not infringe privacy and freedom of expression.

It therefore suggests technology will be an integral part of any solution, saying the proposals are designed to promote a culture of continuous improvement among companies — and highlighting technologies such as Google’s “Family Link” and Apple’s Screen Time app as examples of the sorts of developments it wants the policy framework to encourage.

Although such caveats are unlikely to do much to reassure those concerned the approach will chill online speech, and/or place an impossible burden on smaller firms with less resource to monitor what their users are doing.

“The government’s proposals would create state regulation of the speech of millions of British citizens,” warns digital and civil rights group, the Open Rights Group, in a statement by its executive director Jim Killock. “We have to expect that the duty of care will end up widely drawn with serious implications for legal content, that is deemed potentially risky, whether it really is nor not.

“The government refused to create a state regulator the press because it didn’t want to be seen to be controlling free expression. We are skeptical that state regulation is the right approach.”

UK startup policy advocacy group Coadec was also quick to voice concerns — warning that the government’s plans will “entrench the tech giants, not punish them”.

“The vast scope of the proposals means they cover not just social media but virtually the entire internet – from file sharing to newspaper comment sections. Those most impacted will not be the tech giants the Government claims they are targeting, but everyone else. It will benefit the largest platforms with the resources and legal might to comply – and restrict the ability of British startups to compete fairly,” said Coadec executive director Dom Hallas in a statement. 

“There is a reason that Mark Zuckerberg has called for more regulation. It is in Facebook’s business interest.”

UK startup industry association, techUK, also put out a response statement that warns about the need to avoid disproportionate impacts.

“Some of the key pillars of the Government’s approach remain too vague,” said Vinous Ali, head of policy, techUK. “It is vital that the new framework is effective, proportionate and predictable. Clear legal definitions that allow companies in scope to understand the law and therefore act quickly and with confidence will be key to the success of the new system.

“Not all of the legitimate concerns about online harms can be addressed through regulation. The new framework must be complemented by renewed efforts to ensure children, young people and adults alike have the skills and awareness to navigate the digital world safely and securely.”

The government has launched a 12-week consultation on the proposals, ending July 1, after which it says it will set out the action it will take in developing its final proposals for legislation.

“Following the publication of the Government Response to the consultation, we will bring forward legislation when parliamentary time allows,” it adds.

Last month a House of Lords committee recommended an overarching super regulator be established to plug any legislative gaps and/or handle overlaps in rules on internet platforms, arguing that “a new framework for regulatory action” is needed to handle the digital world.

Though the government appears confident that an internet regulator will be able to navigate any legislative patchwork and keep tech firms in line on its own — at least, for now.

The House of Lords committee was another parliamentary body that came down in support of a statutory duty of care for online services hosting user-generated content, suggesting it should have a special focus on children and “the vulnerable in society”.

And there’s no doubt the concept of regulating internet platforms has broad consensus among UK politicians — on both sides of the aisle. But how to do that effectively and proportionately is another matter.

We reached out to Facebook and Google for a response to the White Paper.

Responding in an emailed statement, Google public policy manager Claire Lilley said: “The issues raised in today’s white paper are of real importance to us and the people that use our services. To help overcome these issues, we haven’t waited for regulation, we’ve created new technology, hired experts and specialists, and ensured our policies are fit for the evolving challenges we face online. Our work has the most impact when companies, Government and communities work together. We look forward to looking at the detail of these suggestions and working in partnership to ensure a free, open and safer internet that works for everyone.”

Also commenting on the Online Harms White Paper in a statement, Rebecca Stimson, Facebook’s head of UK public policy, said: “New rules for the internet should protect society from harm while also supporting innovation, the digital economy and freedom of speech. These are complex issues to get right and we look forward to working with the Government and Parliament to ensure new regulations are effective.”

Stimson also reiterated how Facebook has expanded the number of staff it has working on trust and safety issues to 30,000 in recent years, as well as claiming it’s invested heavily in technology to help prevent abuse — while conceding that “we know there is much more to do”.

Last month the company revealed shortcomings with its safety measures around livestreaming, after it emerged that a massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand which was livestreamed to Facebook’s platform, had not been flagged for accelerated review by moderates because it was not tagged as suicide related content.

Facebook said it would be “learning” from the incident and “re-examining our reporting logic and experiences for both live and recently live videos in order to expand the categories that would get to accelerated review”.

In its response to the UK government White Paper today, Stimson added: “The internet has transformed how billions of people live, work and connect with each other, but new forms of communication also bring huge challenges. We have responsibilities to keep people safe on our services and we share the government’s commitment to tackling harmful content online. As Mark Zuckerberg said last month, new regulations are needed so that we have a standardised approach across platforms and private companies aren’t making so many important decisions alone.”

This report was updated with comment from Google 

Read More



Leave A Comment

More News

TechCrunch » Social

Facebook makes its first browser API contribution 2019-04-22 12:39:06Facebook today announced that it has made its first major API contribution to Google’s Chrome browser. Together with Google, Facebook’s te

3 fixes for Netflix’s ‘What to watch?’ problem 2019-04-20 10:51:11Wasting time every night debating with yourself or your partner about what to watch on Netflix is a drag. It burns people’s time and good will,

How do you hire a great growth marketer? 2019-04-19 12:05:06Editors Note: This article is part of a series that explores the world of growth marketing for founders.

Instagram hides Like counts in leaked design prototype 2019-04-18 16:57:47“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who shares a post will

Facebook now says its password leak affected ‘millions’ 2019-04-18 13:57:36Facebook has confirmed its password-related security incident last month now affects “millions” of Instagram users, not “tens of tho

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel will reappear at Disrupt 2019-04-18 13:00:27He invented modern social media, then had it stolen from him. So how does Evan Spiegel feel about it, and how will he turn Snapchat’s product le

Wonderloop’s networking app lets you swipe left on 2019-04-17 17:00:40There isn’t much left to be done in online networking apps. We are all familiar with professional (LinkedIn), social (Facebook), real time (Twit

Twitter acqui-hires highlight-sharing app Highly 2019-04-17 14:19:18Quotes from articles are much more eye-catching than links on Twitter, so the social giant is scooping up the team behind highlight-sharing app Highly

How-to video maker Jumprope launches to leapfrog YouTube 2019-04-17 12:13:02Sick of pausing and rewinding YouTube tutorials to replay that tricky part? Jumprope is a new instructional social network offering a powerful how-to

Meet the first judges for The Europas Awards 2019-04-17 10:06:11I’m excited to announce that The Europas Awards for European Tech Startups is really shaping up! The awards will be held on 27 June 2019, in Lon

Facebook’s Portal will now surveil your living room 2019-04-16 17:39:00No, you’re not misremembering the details from that young adult dystopian fiction you’re reading — Facebook really does sell a video

Jack Dorsey says it’s time to rethink the 2019-04-16 14:06:12Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took the stage today at the TED conference. But instead of giving the standard talk, he answered questions from TED’s Ch

Mashable

Best TV deals this week: Save on Sony New! 2019-04-22 13:53:32Now that Easter weekend is over, we're officially on the fast track to summer. Opportunities to use chilly weather as an excuse for spending Friday n

Richard Madden shares ‘Game of Thrones’ throwback picture New! 2019-04-22 13:51:02The actor took to Instagram to share a picture of himself and fellow castmates before the hit HBO show began. Read more...More about Mashable Video, G

BTS' 'Boy With Luv' shatters viewing records on New! 2019-04-22 13:50:29The male K-Pop group's latest song notched 100 million views in less than 48 hours. It is the quickest to ever hit the milestone on YouTube. Read mor

Scientists successfully 3D-prints heart from human cells New! 2019-04-22 13:49:57Professor Cal Dvir is the first person to engineer and print an entire heart filled with cells, blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Read more...M

'Knock Down the House' trailer provides inspiring insight New! 2019-04-22 13:09:26 Rachel Lears's moving documentary Knock Down the House chronicles the merited campaigns of four progressive women candidates — Alexandria Oc

This charging hub can power six devices at New! 2019-04-22 13:08:29Between your laptop, tablet, phone, earphones, and smartwatch, charging them all at once is one giant headache. Combine your collection of gadgets wit

This portable safe bag is the perfect accessory 2019-04-22 12:37:44Summer is coming. As you plot the days you're planning on going to the beach to soak up the sun, thieves are also rubbing their hands in anticipation

This 55-inch 4K TV from Insignia has built-in 2019-04-22 12:25:31The TV market is like the wild, wild west, but that doesn't mean you should wait until Black Friday sales tell you which one to get. Summer 2019 dese

Dell’s G3 gaming laptop lets you take your 2019-04-22 12:17:06Many PC gamers claim that playing on a personal computer is the best way to experience video games in general due to their power, customization option

Cuisinart's juice extractor is on sale for $34 2019-04-22 12:05:49If you’ve been toying with the idea of at-home juicing, now is a good time to take the leap and commit. Fruits and veggies are coming back into

Samsung will delay the U.S. release of its 2019-04-22 12:03:02UPDATE: April 22, 2019, 1:07 p.m. ET: This story was updated to include the news that Samsung confirmed it was delaying the launch of the Samsung Gala

Jon Snow just did the one thing every 2019-04-22 11:40:56Of all the great houses in Game of Thrones, House Stark is the one best known for adhering to a sense of honor. They are a strong, stalwart house who

The Next Web

Post Foldgate, Samsung delays Galaxy Fold launch in 2019-04-22 04:20:08Samsung has reportedly postponed the launch events for its $2,000 Galaxy Fold smartphone in Hong Kong and Shanghai, according to reports by SamMobile

Why philosophy and business should go hand in 2019-04-22 04:00:14Business people and entrepreneurs like myself often talk about ‘nice to have’ and ‘need to have.’ The latter refers to things

CHEAP: Level up your gaming with $300 off 2019-04-22 03:31:08If you spend plenty of time playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) or Fortnite on your phone, it might be worth upgrading to something tha

What founders can learn from poker players about 2019-04-22 02:30:03As entrepreneurs and creatives, we are often told to never quit in pursuit of our dreams. Conversely, professional gamblers and e-sports players are t

Full moon patents: IBM’s ‘eye contact’ file transfer 2019-04-22 01:00:15Ugh, the Gregorian calendar is so boring. That’s why we’re disrupting monthly series with a lunar cycle-based series about the best patent

Score a domain that better suits what you 2019-04-21 09:00:00While .com addresses are stacked to the rafters, new top-level domains like .tech are fresh and ready to accommodate for the right businesses and serv

CHEAP: At $599, Lenovo’s 2018 Premium ThinkPad is 2019-04-21 08:24:14Your kids or your parents might often ask you to borrow your computer just when you need it the most. So, it’s never a bad idea to keep another

Readitfor.me boils down bestsellers in just 12 minutes 2019-04-20 09:00:00With Readitfor.me, you’ll have access to some of the greatest books ever written on business and self-improvement, all boiled down to their esse

Cornell scientists create ‘living’ machines that eat, grow, 2019-04-19 18:56:11The field of robotics is going through a renaissance thanks to advances in machine learning and sensor technology. Each generation of robot is enginee

Happy 4/20: Here’s some science to shut up 2019-04-19 15:08:50April 20th is a holy day for many who imbibe cannabis. For some, it’s just a great day to watch stoner flicks and smoke herb all day. Others vie

A Q&A with Roland CEO Jun-ichi Miki on 2019-04-19 12:34:53The Roland Corporation is a global powerhouse in the field of music technology. We interviewed Mr. Jun-ichi Miki, Roland Corporation CEO and Represent

TNW2019 Daily: The latest conference news 2019-04-19 11:19:04In the blink of an eye, it’s suddenly Friday again. The countdown to TNW Conference is going by in a flash! With only 20 days to go, let’s

Entrepreneur

How Raising Your Prices Can Actually Help You New! 2019-04-22 13:30:00Plus, this Amazon entrepreneur breaks down how to make the most of the online marketplace.

Why Young Professionals Don't Negotiate Salary (and Why 2019-04-22 11:00:00Getting paid what you are worth requires more deliberate planning than most employees -- and entrepreneurs -- are willing to implement.

Was That CBD Gum Tiger Woods and Phil 2019-04-22 11:00:00Only they know if it's CBD gum they were chewing but there are many reasons why they might.

7 Essential Strategies You Can Use to Grow 2019-04-22 10:30:00It's important to remain optimistic while running your own company.

The Far-Reaching Impact of Embedding a Sustainable Workplace 2019-04-22 10:00:00Today's observance is a great opportunity to put 'sustainability' into your mission statement if it's not already there.

These Types of Music Will Improve Your Productivity 2019-04-22 09:45:00Here are three types of music that will give you a major boost in productivity.

How to Find an Introvert-Friendly Work Culture 2019-04-22 09:30:00How can an introvert get the alone time they crave and need in an office environment?

Read More In Less Time With the Leading 2019-04-22 09:30:00Readitfor.me is the leading book-summary service for entrepreneurs, executives and business coaches.

How a Million-Dollar Deal Helped These Coffee Entrepreneur 2019-04-22 09:00:00The Barrow brothers, owners of Denver-based Boyer's Coffee, recently launched an exclusive line for the retail giant.

How the 'LinkedIn on Steroids' Sales Navigator App 2019-04-22 08:45:00Let us show you how this premium app could be worth its weight in superior sales leads.

How These Women CEOs Raise Money in Rooms 2019-04-22 08:30:00The founders of furniture startup Hutch talk about the various obstacles they've come up against while fundraising.

Are You Doing These 3 Things to Foster 2019-04-22 08:30:00It's never too late to course-correct and treat your customers as if they are welcome guests and members of a valued community.

E-Commerce Times

Philanthropy Is Good for Business 2019-04-16 14:22:07The other day Salesforce announced that it was integrating its philanthropic arm, the nonprofit Salesforce.org, into the larger organization, Salesfor

Hackers Use Microsoft Help Desk to Pull Off 2019-04-16 13:31:06Hackers piggybacked onto a Microsoft customer support portal between Jan. 1 and March 28 to gain access to the emails of noncorporate account holders

The Rise of Headless Commerce 2019-04-15 15:49:52"Headless commerce" has become an e-commerce buzzword lately, but how can brands use it to their advantage? "In its most basic terms, 'headless co

SEO: How Important Is It to Make the 2019-04-12 08:00:00In a recent E-Commerce Times poll, only 4.32 percent of respondents said there was always enough information on the first page of search results to me

What Matters Most in the Race to 5G 2019-04-11 14:01:34With 5G knocking on our door, a growing number of wireless competitors have been getting on their high-horses and trying to knock down the current lea

What Sellers Are Missing From CRM 2019-04-11 08:00:00As the B2B buyer continues to evolve, B2B sellers have more solutions than ever in their technology stacks. From CRM, sales content and asset manageme

Alphabet's Wing Delivery Service Takes Flight in Australia 2019-04-10 15:43:16Alphabet's Project Wing on Monday launched a commercial air delivery service in North Canberra, Australia, providing customers with fresh food, hot c

Social Media's Next Act 2019-04-09 15:07:19A little over 10 years ago, we were toasting social media as the great innovation that would enable CRM to traverse the mythical last mile between ven

10 Steps to Create a Seamless Omnichannel Business 2019-04-09 08:00:00During the last year, longstanding brick-and-mortar retailer chains such as Toys "R" Us, Payless, and Diesel USA have filed for bankruptcy. Failures

Zuckerberg Tries, Tries Again 2019-04-06 08:00:00Mark Zuckerberg's most recent effort to change the conversation about Facebook seems like just another attempt at self-justification. In a recent op-

The Power of Influencer Marketing 2019-04-05 08:00:00Influencer marketing uses the popularity of people who have many followers and a wide reach to sway opinions. It's very much a strategy for the socia

With More Than 8 Billion Things, Where Are 2019-04-04 12:12:02No knows for sure how many "things" are connected to the Internet, but the Federal Trade Commission reported last year that it was more than 8 billi

Social News Daily

He’s the President of the U.S. Virgin Islands 2019-04-19 12:04:01Donald Trump is a moron. And not just for being the President of the United States. He has proven to be dumber than the average Joe by not knowing som

The New Child’s Play Trailer Has Arrived – 2019-04-18 20:17:01There is a Child’s Play reboot on the way and a new trailer just released for it. And, guess what? It appears every bit as spooky as the origina

Canadians Are on the Hunt For a “Tiny 2019-04-18 18:12:59Well, this is the most magical news story we’ve heard in ages (perhaps ever). Canadian citizens are on the hunt for a “tiny pink horse&rdq

Former Heroin Addict Who Almost Lost Arms to 2019-04-18 17:34:26An ex-heroin user is sharing photos of her drug-ravaged arms online in a bid to help other addicts. Drugs survivor Rachael Keogh posted the disturbing

After He Tried To Break Up Woman Beat 2019-04-18 16:42:12A woman, who beat down her boyfriend with his own prosthetic leg because he attempted to break up with her, was arrested on Wednesday. Michelle Jackso

Twitch Streamer Banned After Blackface Cosplay Of Black 2019-04-18 12:57:32Casual racism is as much a problem as intended racism. It might not be as dangerous, but it can be unaddressed, owing to the fact that it is often unn

Urine For A Treat: Yoga Master Snorts His 2019-04-18 12:15:21Urine is not usually what comes to mind when looking for some health hacks and tricks. However, previous civilizations, such a the Romans have actuall

6 Illogical Statements Made By Betsy DeVos That 2019-04-18 11:02:33Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is hardly known for being a wordsmith. More often than not, when she speaks she ends up putting her foot in her mouth.

Science Teacher Reportedly Taught Students To Make Ecstasy 2019-04-18 09:44:02Professor Tatsunori Iwamura allegedly admitted coaxing students in his pharmaceutical class at Matsuyama University to make 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamph

Dead Bodies Can Attend Their Own Funerals With 2019-04-17 16:46:48Dead bodies are being preserved and exhibited in life-like situations so loved ones can view them as they knew before they are ultimately laid to rest

Couple Do DNA Test “For Fun” and Accidentally 2019-04-17 12:57:43Based on the internet, doing a DNA test “for fun” is never a good idea. Companies such as 23 and Me and ancestry.com make DNA tests seem l

Space Junk Could Darken Skies, Block Sunlight In 2019-04-17 11:04:37Ever since rockets have been made capable of breaking through the Earth’s atmosphere, mankind has been sending countless space junk just above t


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.