UK proposes creating regulator to fine tech firms slow to take down harmful online content...

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Apple and other tech companies may face fines and have their services blocked if they are not able to handle harmful online contact in an effective manner, the United Kingdom government has suggested, proposing the creation of a regulator that could create new rules social networks and other online entities should follow concerning terrorist messages and abuse images.




The UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) and the Home Office have jointly published the Online Harms White Paper, a set of proposals aiming to tackle inappropriate online communications by forcing the companies providing the services to have a vested interest in keeping social networks clear of such material.

The definition of the harmful material is far wider than what is currently applied in UK law, which covers terrorism and hate crimes, child sex abuse, revenge porn, illegal goods, and harassment, reports the BBC. Areas including cyber-bullying, trolling, and the propagation of fake news or disinformation could also be affected by the regulator's decisions.

The proposals are open for a 12-week public consultation that ends on July 1, after which DCMS will review and refine the white paper into a more formal plan.

The white paper suggests the creation of an independent watchdog that is able to write a "code of practice" that online firms must abide by, setting out expectations for what is "reasonably practicable" to counter harmful activity based on currently-available technology and resources.

The regulator will also be granted the power to enforce the rules, including fining companies that break or infringe on the new rules, such as by failing to sufficiently take down offensive content in a timely manner. There is also the potential for the entity to have additional powers to fine company executives as well as the firm itself, and to compel internet providers to block access to sites and services that break the rules regularly.

The size of the fines could be substantial, though not currently defined. It is suggested that, based on the Information Commissioner's ability to fine up to 4 percent of a company's turnover for breaking GDPR rules, a comparable level could be expected.

"The era of self-regulation for online companies is over," said Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright. "Voluntary actions from industry to tackle online harms have not been applied consistently or gone far enough."

The rules would primarily deal with social media and networks, but it would also be applicable to other areas, including hosting services, cloud storage, forums, search engines, and messaging services.

Facebook has welcomed the white paper, with a statement from head of UK policy Rebecca Stimson claiming "New regulations are needed so that we have a standardized approach across platforms and private companies aren't making so many important decisions alone. New rules for the internet should protect society from harm while also supporting innovation, the digital economy, and freedom of speech."

A similar statement from Twitter head of UK policy Katy Minshall advised "We look forward to engaging in the next steps of the process, and working to strike an appropriate balance between keeping users safe and preserving the open, free nature of the internet."

The latest call for new internet rules governing how online firms deal with harmful content follows calls by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for governments to come up with ways to "regulate the internet." In early April, Zuckerberg suggested regulation could be put in place to cut down harmful content, maintain user privacy, ensure data portability, and to maintain the integrity of elections.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has also previously asked for governments to make changes to regulation, primarily in how data is stored and privacy of consumers is ensured. Cook's call, as well as those from other critics of current policies, has led to the US government attempting to create bipartisan privacy bills, though it is likely to be some time before such changes become law in some form.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    IMHO this is clearly aimed at the likes of Google and Facebook. They host the social media platforms that billions use daily not Apple.
    Apple (AFAIK) is being targetted because of some dodgy apps in the App Store. That should be an order of magnitude easier to control than FB or Twitter etc.
    olsDAalsethmacgui
  • Reply 2 of 13
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,127member
    "The definition of the harmful material is far wider than what is currently applied in UK law, which covers terrorism and hate crimes, child sex abuse, revenge porn, illegal goods, and harassment, reports the BBC. Areas including cyber-bullying, trolling, and the propagation of fake news or disinformation could also be affected by the regulator's decisions. "

    Sounds scary IMO. What is:
     "trolling?" - I disagree with this view
     "Fake news?" - This view is against the "prevailing wisdom"
     "illegal goods?" - The good is perfectly legal in Denmark. Time to firewall Denmark. 

    These laws, sold under the guise of safety, are easy to sell to a frightened public with little resilience to the real world but can do immeasurable harm in the long run. 
    monstrositymac_dogDAalsethdewmeentropysmacgui
  • Reply 3 of 13
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,222member
    This is designed to shut down libertarian/conservative sites and content, and criticism of an increasingly authoritarian government that it anti-democratic and out of control. All "under the guise of safety" (as the poster above pointed out).
    jbdragonentropys
  • Reply 4 of 13
    It's hilarious/terrifying that the mechanism that was supposed to offer a global connection to free information is going to be used to control the information everyone in the world sees. Orwell must be spinning in his grave so fast that he'll time travel back to the 1940s and write a novel about that predicts all this stuff. 
    entropys
  • Reply 5 of 13
    UK has odd laws and has just added new recently about "hate speech" that is undefined and gets into frivolus interpretation by people who should never be allowed to interpret (courts and judges are for that). So as much as this sounds like good idea, this also sounds like attempt to impose some odd patterns on Internet and bias content while we need more debate and finding sense on what means what and what is plain emotions.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,293member
    steven n. said:
    "The definition of the harmful material is far wider than what is currently applied in UK law, which covers terrorism and hate crimes, child sex abuse, revenge porn, illegal goods, and harassment, reports the BBC. Areas including cyber-bullying, trolling, and the propagation of fake news or disinformation could also be affected by the regulator's decisions. "

    Sounds scary IMO. What is:
     "trolling?" - I disagree with this view
     "Fake news?" - This view is against the "prevailing wisdom"
     "illegal goods?" - The good is perfectly legal in Denmark. Time to firewall Denmark. 

    These laws, sold under the guise of safety, are easy to sell to a frightened public with little resilience to the real world but can do immeasurable harm in the long run. 
    It is a white paper.

    Legislation is needed. By the time it gets passed it will be more refined and defined but far from perfect. It will be improved upon over time though. 

    Legislation is too often behind the times. Sometimes that is good. Other times not so. The point is it is needed and what actually gets into law in this case will probably clear up a lot of doubt.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,739member
    Trolling?  :#

    The UK has been heading down the wrong path for quite some time now when it comes to internet censorship. It is quite disgusting to see, to be honest. I also agree that Orwell would indeed be rolling in his grave if he saw what 2019 was like.

    It's one thing when companies like Twitter and Facebook engage in ridiculous censorship, and they have engaged in plenty of disgusting things, but it's something else when the govt itself seeks to police speech on the internet.

    Twitter recently removed tweets telling journalists to "learn to code", as that phrase was designated hate speech. Meanwhile, death threats on twitter are ok, if they are made by certain privileged groups directed at other groups. What a bunch of d-bag clowns.

    Basically anything that some extremist hypocritical authoritarian D-bag in charge disagrees with can be designated as trolling or hate speech or worse. Simply disagreeing with certain people these days makes you a racist and even a nazi and worse. In the UK, simply telling the truth and stating a simple fact can land somebody in trouble, and they might get a visit from the free speech gestapo knocking on their door.

    I do not agree with everything that Apple does politically speaking, but I am sure glad that Apple is not in the business of monitoring and policing social media, like Facebook and Twitter are.

    With all of the record high stabbings, acid attacks and other garbage taking place in the UK, you'd figure that there would be more important things to concern themselves with, but no, let's go police what and how people speak online, and punish people for not being politically correct or for daring to tell the truth.

    Good job, you disgusting pathetic clowns.
    edited April 8 elijahgentropyssteven n.
  • Reply 8 of 13
    crossladcrosslad Posts: 503member
    As a U.K. citizen I am all for bringing in some regulations for the internet. In the U.K. we have rules as to what is deemed suitable for viewing on the tv and in cinemas. Why should the internet be any different?  There are also limits to how much advertising is allowed on tv, yet there doesn’t appear to be any limit as to how much advertising is pushed onto us by Google. 
  • Reply 9 of 13
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 1,029member
    For those of you who may be unaware, this conversation was spurred by the recent Christchurch Massacre in New Zealand where a white nationalist gunned down 50 Muslim worshippers while streaming his crime from a body cam live on Facebook.
    seanjmacplusplus
  • Reply 10 of 13
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,890member
    crosslad said:
    As a U.K. citizen I am all for bringing in some regulations for the internet. In the U.K. we have rules as to what is deemed suitable for viewing on the tv and in cinemas. Why should the internet be any different?  There are also limits to how much advertising is allowed on tv, yet there doesn’t appear to be any limit as to how much advertising is pushed onto us by Google. 
    Well, google and Facebook argue they are common carriers, not responsible for their content. They argue they are not publishers.  

    So rather than the government saying they are in fact publishers and subject to the same rules you mention, the governments are trying to treat them differently. Meanwhile, the more google and Facebook (and Apple!) “curate” content, they more like publishers they really are. 
    But, rather than simply declare them publishers, which they interwebby companies most assuredly do not want, as then they would be liable for content, the governments try to come up with additional layers of rules, because that’s what stupid politicians, originally trained as lawyers, do.

    and yes, like most fiction writers trying to predict the future, Orwell was a few decades early. 1984 and more importantly, in the current revival of socialist pipe dreams, Animal Farm, might as well be blueprints for current society.
    edited April 8
  • Reply 11 of 13
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,518member
    Regulating speech and posting of material by way of legislation is a two-edged sword but necessary and overdue. The amount of malicious harm that can be and is done to others needs to be addressed and culpability assigned.

    A real problem is, as in other walks of life, that common decency and respect can't be created through legislation.

    Another is being controlled instead of just protected. The temptation and possibility of a PATRIOT Act for the internet is frightening. The mindset of 'We can't read your mind (yet!) but anything you express outside of it, are belong to us!' — terrifying.

  • Reply 12 of 13
    Who exactly are you insulting Apple ][ ?
    edited April 9
  • Reply 13 of 13
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,127member
    crosslad said:
    As a U.K. citizen I am all for bringing in some regulations for the internet. In the U.K. we have rules as to what is deemed suitable for viewing on the tv and in cinemas. Why should the internet be any different?  There are also limits to how much advertising is allowed on tv, yet there doesn’t appear to be any limit as to how much advertising is pushed onto us by Google. 
    Except this is about curtailing freedom of thought, speech and expression and not about privacy and advertising. 
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