The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has proposed an independent regulator that will write a “code of practice” for social networks and internet companies.
The idea of The Online Harms White Paper is based on “making the internet a safer place” and the call that social networks must tackle material that advocates online-harms, self-harm and suicide. It became a prominent issue after 14-year-old Molly Russell took her own life in 2017 and other stories what you can see in really good movie on Netflix: ‘To the Bone’ with Keanu Reeves.
What are ‘online harms’? There are clearly defined in law:
- spreading terrorist content
- child sex abuse
- so-called revenge pornography
- hate crimes
- the sale of illegal goods
And it also covers harmful behaviour that has a less clear legal definition such as:
- the spread of fake news and disinformation
The proposal suggests:
- giving the regulator enforcement powers including the ability to fine companies that break the rules; that could be up to 4% of company’s turnover
- considering additional enforcement powers such as the ability to fine company executives and force internet service providers to block sites that break the rules
- #SocialMedia companies should produce annual reports revealing how much harmful content has been found on their platforms
On the one hand as Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: tech giants and social media companies had a moral duty “to protect the young people they profit from”. On the other: is it really an appropriate balance between keeping users safe and preserving the open, free nature of the internet?