UK wants to be able to fine millions of sites that don’t remove hate messages

Spread the love

With the Online Safety Bill bill, the British government wants to be able to fine companies up to 18 million pounds or ten percent of worldwide annual turnover if they do not remove harmful content or do not remove it on time. The supervisor must also be able to block sites for this.

With the bill, the British government wants to ‘protect children’ and combat the ‘worst abuses on social media, such as racist hate crimes’. In addition, the law should give regulators more options to stop financial fraud on social media and dating apps. The government maintains that the law guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the press and says that the law “will not lead to unnecessary censorship of sites and platforms”.

Under the proposal, all sites and platforms covered by the new rules must take action to combat illegal abuse. The government says companies must take “rapid and effective” action against hate crime, harassment and threats against individuals. The sites must also adhere to their own standards and terms. They must also consider the risks their sites pose to ‘the youngest and most vulnerable people’ and protect children from inappropriate messages and harmful activity.

The largest and most popular social media sites, which are considered Category 1 services under the law, must also “act” on posts that are not illegal, but can be harmful. The government cites the examples of encouraging self-harm or misinformation and disinformation. The Category 1 platforms must explicitly state in their terms of use how they deal with such messages. The UK regulator Ofcom will also ensure that these Category 1 sites adhere to their own terms of use.

The bill should soon also include provisions that oblige companies to report child abuse images. For example, police services should be able to better investigate cases of child abuse.

If the tech companies fail to comply with the new law, senior executives could face personal charges if they fail to comply with Ofcom’s requests for information. This is not yet included in the current bill, but could be added later if the current measures prove to be insufficient.

The government emphasizes that the bill will guarantee freedom of expression and that pluralistic online conversations will still be possible. Therefore, platforms and sites must deploy safeguards that protect freedom of expression. The government cites the example of human moderators who, in complex cases where context is important, have to make the choice whether something should be removed or not. In addition, people must be able to effectively appeal against decisions made by sites and platforms. These users can also complain about a decision by a platform via Ofcom.

The Category 1 services must also publish ‘up-to-date reports’ on their impact on freedom of expression. Here they must also demonstrate that they have taken steps to counteract any negative impact on freedom of expression.

These Category 1 sites and platforms are also required by law to protect “democratically important” content. They must not discriminate against certain political principles and must treat all political opinions equally. Their terms regarding political discussions must be clearly stated and Ofcom will ensure that they abide by their own terms.

Posts on journalistic sites are excluded from this law, including comments under news items. Articles shared across sites and platforms are also excluded from the law, with Category 1 services given the added responsibility of ensuring UK users can access journalistic content shared on their platforms. Journalists must be able to appeal quickly against any deleted messages. The bill does not distinguish between citizen journalism and professional journalism.

Companies and services that do not comply with the new legislation risk fines of 21 million euros to ten percent of the annual worldwide turnover. Ofcom looks at the highest amount. The full bill will be published later on Wednesday and will go to the British Parliament later.

You might also like