UK Laws Make Free Speech "Abhorrent", Set Up "Duty of Care" Nanny State

grarpamp grarpamp at
Sat Apr 6 01:35:17 PDT 2019

The United Kingdom is working on legislation that would hold social
media executives liable for harmful content distributed on their
platforms. The leaked white paper comes less than 24 hours after
Australia passed sweeping legislation that threatens huge fines for
social media companies and jail for their executives if they fail to
rapidly remove "abhorrent violent material" from their platforms. From
the report: Under plans expected to be published on Monday, the
government will legislate for a new statutory duty of care, to be
policed by an independent regulator and likely to be funded through a
levy on media companies. The regulator -- likely initially to be
Ofcom, but in the longer term a new body -- will have the power to
impose substantial fines against companies that breach their duty of
care and to hold individual executives personally liable.

The scope of the recommendations is broad. As well as social media
platforms such as Facebook and search engines such as Google they take
in online messaging services and file hosting sites. Other proposals
in the online harm white paper include:

- Government powers to direct the regulator on specific issues such as
terrorist activity or child sexual exploitation.
- Annual "transparency reports" from social media companies,
disclosing the prevalence of harmful content on their platforms and
what they are doing to combat it.
- Co-operation with police and other enforcement agencies on illegal
harms, such as incitement of violence and the sale of illegal weapons.
"Companies will be asked to comply with a code of practice, setting
out what steps they are taking to ensure that they meet the duty of
care -- including by designing products and platforms to make them
safer, and pointing users who have suffered harm towards support," the
report says. "The code of practice is also likely to include the steps
companies will be expected to take to combat disinformation, including
by using fact-checking services, particularly during election periods,
and improving the transparency of political advertising. Regulated
firms will be expected to comply with the code of practice -- or
explain what other steps they are taking to meet the duty of care.
However, many questions are left to the regulator to determine."

More information about the cypherpunks mailing list