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New UK laws tackle safety on social media

8th April 2019

Social media icons on a phone screen

The government plans to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. The Online Harms White Paper has recently been published and outlines that social media firms must establish a duty of care towards their online users.

The safety laws have come as a result of the growing hostile activity online. The problems, that have been described in the white paper, include bullying, child abuse and the promotion of gang culture. The government propose that social media companies must accept responsibility for the harmful activity happening on their platforms and if they fail to comply with the new regulations, they will receive fines and blocked access to their sites. The government are also considering that senior management in these firms may be held personally accountable for failings.

The Prime Minister comments: “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 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.

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

The white paper continues to propose that social media companies produce annual reports showing the extent of harmful content happening on their platforms and the measures that have been taken to address this. These reports will then be made public to encourage transparency, trust and accountability for users and parents. It has also been proposed that companies need to implement quicker response times to their users’ complaints.

The government plan to launch a strategy to empower users. They propose a new online media literacy strategy that involves educating children, young people and adults about online safety. Digital Secretary, Jeremy Wright, comments: “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.”

“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.”

Laws are still being introduced to manage the risks associated with the rise of technology. Get in touch with a legal recruitment agency for a job in the legal sector and you can help the UK tackle online safety.