Social media giants to face British fines, including prison terms for executives over harmful content

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Big tech platforms face fines up to 10% of turnover from British government under a newly proposed law that will go into effect next year.

The law will require the Social Media sites to prevent users from posting child porn, terrorist content or anti-vaccination disinformation. The platforms will also be required to do more to ensure the safety of children online, so that the kids are not exposed to grooming, bullying and pornography.

“We are entering a new age of accountability for tech to protect children and vulnerable users, to restore trust in this industry, and to enshrine in law safeguards for free speech,” Britain’s Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said.

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British government will block any of the big social media sites that breaks the rule, according to the new legislation. Senior executives could also face prison terms if they do not immediately respond to takedown requests from government.

Government-approved communications regulator, Ofcom, will be given full authority to fine the companies up to $24 million or 10% of global turnover, whichever is higher, for breaking the rules.

“We will not allow child sexual abuse, terrorist material and other harmful content to fester on online platforms. Tech companies must put public safety first or face the consequences,” British Home Secretary Priti Patel said while announcing the new rules.

The law will also require the big tech companies to come up with clear terms and conditions and that “explicitly state how they will handle content posted by a user which is legal but could cause significant physical or psychological harm to adults”, the government said in a statement.

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“This includes dangerous disinformation and misinformation about coronavirus vaccines, and will help bridge the gap between what companies say they do and what happens in practice.”

The regulation sets a new global standard for the social media giants as governments around the world work hard separately to introduce stringent measures to better control illegal or dangerous content on social media.

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