The UK government on Monday proposed a plan for a “world-leading” package of online safety measures that will make companies more responsible for their users’ safety online, especially children and other vulnerable groups.
The proposed regulations, outlined in the Online Harms White Paper, suggest establishing in law a new duty of care towards users, which would be overseen by an independent regulator. Companies would be required to tackle a comprehensive set of harms, ranging from illegal activity and content to behaviors which are harmful but not necessarily illegal.
If companies failed to meet this new duty of care, the independent regulator would have numerous enforcement powers that would disrupt the business activities of non-compliant companies, including the ability to impose liability on individual members of senior management and measures to block non-compliant services.
Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Facebook that she wants the UK to be the safest place to be online.
Up until now, we have allowed these (social media) firms to regulate themselves, but it is simply no longer working. Online companies are increasingly operating without consideration for some of their most vulnerable users.
The White Paper is a draft of the bill. Before it gets published and becomes official, it will be subject to a public comment period until July 1.