UK to empower media regulator Ofcom to regulate internet, remove 'harmful' content

The UK government has announced a plan to put media regulator Ofcom in charge of regulating the internet, with a focus on removing illegal content and minimizing "harmful" content.

Executives at internet firms may face big fines or prison if they are determined by the government to have failed to protect users from "harmful and illegal content" online.

The Office of Communications, aka Ofcom, is the UK government's regulatory and competition authority for broadcasting, telcoms, and postal industries.

Now they'll be in charge of the internet, too.


Read the government's proposal at
Government minded to appoint Ofcom as online harms regulator

From reporting by Alex Hern and Jim Waterson at the Guardian:

Under the proposals, Ofcom will not have the power to remove specific posts from social media platforms. Instead, it will require internet companies such as Facebook and Google to publish explicit statements setting out which content and behaviour they deem to be acceptable on their sites. The media regulator will then ensure internet businesses enforce these standards "consistently and transparently".

The culture secretary, Nicky Morgan, and the home secretary, Priti Patel, promised that changes to the proposals would guarantee free speech for adults online and only target larger internet businesses. However, some tech start-up groups warned that it would still place an enormous burden on smaller businesses to police content that is potentially harmful but not illegal.

Among the proposals announced on Wednesday, it was revealed:

• Any business that enables the sharing of user-generated content – such as online comments or video uploads – is likely to be affected by the new rules on reducing online harms, with hundreds of thousands of British companies affected.

• Internet businesses will be required to publish annual transparency reports explaining what harmful content they have removed and how they are meeting their standards.

• The government wants companies to bring back age verification for certain websites, following an abandoned attempt to introduce it last year to restrict access to online pornography.

What could possibly go wrong.

Read the full report at the Guardian
Ofcom to be put in charge of regulating internet in UK

PHOTO: Ofcom HQ, photographer: Matt Biddulph (CC BY-SA 2.0)