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Facebook, Twitter face government tax with new Internet Safety Strategy

UK Government outlines a new set of standards for social media sites, but how do they differ to the current regulations?

By April Slattery

The UK Government has cracked down on social media sites by releasing a new Internet Safety Strategy, outlining new rules and regulations.

The strategy aims to focus on dangers such as cyber-bullying, trolling, under-age access and extremist content on websites to ensure better safety for the public when browsing the web.

Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, announced the new internet standards to better protect young people online, making social media sites fully responsible for any content published on their website. If sites are in breach of the new standards, the Government will impose a levy on the firm.

The move comes following a series of social media sites having been reportedly used for the planning of terror actions, as well as being used for trolling and the exploitation of young children.

Facebook, Twitter faces government tax with new internet standards

Education sector is targeted to teach internet safety

Currently, sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram cannot be prosecuted for content posted on their sites as it has been done by individuals. However, the strategy changes this and also looks to classify websites as publications, following the same strict rules and standards as newspapers.

Under the new strategy, it aims to ensure sites offer online safety policies, minimum standards and metrics and introduce regular review and monitoring of their site. Additionally, the Government wants to encourage technology firms to ‘think safety first’ and report as soon as an incident happens online.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said: “The Internet has been an amazing force for good, but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people.

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“We need an approach to the Internet that protects everyone without restricting growth and innovation in the digital economy. Collaboratively, government, industry, parents and communities can keep citizens safe online, but only by working together.”

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In addition to tackling extremist and unwanted content on social media sites, Ministers hope to use the strategy to crack down on cyber-bullying and better protect young people.

Within the strategy, Bradley also looked to the education sector to introduce compulsory internet safety lessons that teach children of internet site dangers of what can happen to their content once posted online.

In the strategy, the Government has said: “We want all internet users to be equipped with the right skills and digital resilience to stay safe online. But we also want to reduce the problems that are currently encountering and because a shift in the way users respond to threats will take time to achieve, it is critical that the technology industry takes action now to make products and platforms as safe as possible.”

As news of the UK Government’s new Internet Safety Strategy has emerged, the tech sector has responded outlining they share the same goal as the Government, to better protect the public.

Antony Walker, Deputy CEO of techUK, said: “When it comes to internet safety, we’re all in it together. The UK tech sector shares the government’s ambition to make Britain the safest place for people to be online. The Strategy will succeed if it is founded on collaboration between government, businesses, charities and internet users.”

“The big challenge is to find and build effective solutions that can be applied at scale. It is important to remember that not all tech companies are the same and there isn’t a one size fits all solution. We need a smart approach that allows companies to tailor their initiative depending on where they sit in the digital ecosystem.”

“Companies continue to develop powerful tools to keep users safe, but we have to educate and empower children, parents and the wider public to stay safe and spot potential harm.”

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