The UK government will give Ofcom new regulatory powers to police what is posted on the internet, it has said. The decision was made as part of a new “online harms“ plan that ministers say will protect people as they use the internet.
However, critics say the addition of new rules and regulations could stifle free speech and give the government unprecedented powers to decide what is posted and available on the internet. Campaign group Big Brother Watch has called the plans “dangerous and wrong” and suggested they are “a direct attack on the fundamental right to freedom of expression”.
Ofcom will have the power to enforce a “duty of care” on companies such as Facebook and Twitter “to protect users from harmful and illegal terrorist and child-abuse content”. It will be able to punish companies that fail in that duty.
Previous proposals have suggested allowing the regulator to issue fines against platforms and websites that it judges to have failed to protect users from seeing harmful videos such as those depicting violence or child abuse.
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