United Kingdom plans to regulate harmful online content

British Prime Minister Theresa May

The Departments for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office have published a white paper on online harms that proposes strict new rules be introduced that require firms to take responsibility for their users and their safety, as well as the content they display on their services.

It would also look at the enforcement powers of an independent regulatory body, potential redress mechanisms for online users, and measures to ensure the regulation was targeted and proportionate for industry.

Online platforms would be required to take "robust action" against content that risks interfering with legal proceedings under government proposals for regulating the web.

"These new regulations will assist policing in our battle to keep young people and vulnerable adults safe, by allowing us to focus our resources on pursuing offenders in the United Kingdom and preventing the proliferation of material that harms our society", said Mr Bailey.

They suggest the introduction of a statutory duty of care for internet companies, as well as codes of practice and requirements to respond to user complaints, with firms facing the prospect of large fines if they breach these rules.

Furthermore, the regulator will have the power to force platforms to publish annual transparency reports about harmful content.

"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".

"That list isn't static, it may change over time because one of the things about the internet we all recognise is that it moves fast". Online companies must start taking responsibility for their platforms, and help restore public trust in this technology.

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The British government will introduce "world first" internet safety laws created to make the United Kingdom the safest place in the world to be online, new proposals claim.

It's worth noting that while Australia introduced its legislation without seeking public opinion, the United Kingdom is set to consult on its proposals before taking any further steps to implement them.

"There is now a range of regulatory and voluntary initiatives aimed at addressing these problems, but these have not gone far or fast enough, or been consistent enough between different companies, to keep United Kingdom users safe online", the government said.

"This is a hugely significant commitment by the Government that once enacted, can make the United Kingdom a world pioneer in protecting children online". Young adults or children may be exposed to harmful content that relates, for example, to self-harm or suicide.

"We are pleased that the Government has listened to the NSPCC's detailed proposals and we are grateful to all those who supported our campaign".

"The Diana Award welcomes today's Online Harms White Paper".

"This White Paper is a welcome announcement for those of us working to keep the public safe from the unprecedented terrorist threat", said the Metropolitan Police's Head of Counter Terrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu. The government is using Internet regulation as a blunt tool to try and fix complex societal problems. And I am not prepared to let them stand by.

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