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UK Reveals Law To Fine Social Media Companies Failing To Eliminate Abuse Online

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A person wearing a protective mask looks at a cellphone amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Manchester, United Kingdom, Oct. 20, 2020. REUTERS / Phil Noble

LONDON, May 12 (Reuters) – The UK said Wednesday a proposed new law would fine social media companies up to 10% of sales or £ 18 million ($ 25 million) for online – Do not prevent abuses such as racist hate crimes. while executives could also face criminal measures.

The online safety law is also designed to strengthen freedom of expression and ensure that democratic political debates and journalistic content are protected, the government said.

“It is time for technology companies to be held accountable and to protect the British people from harm. If they fail to do so, they face penalties,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Tech companies have been accused of doing far too little about online abuse. Football clubs and other sports authorities boycotted the world’s largest social media platforms last month to highlight the growing problem.

The bill will impose a duty of care on social media companies and websites to ensure they take quick action to remove illegal content such as hate crime, harassment and threats against individuals, including abuse that falls below the criminal line.

There will also be an obligation to remove and limit the spread of terrorist material, suicide content and sexual abuse from children that they would have to report to the authorities.

Companies that fail to do so face heavy fines from the regulator Ofcom, which can also block access to their websites.

“The bill contains reserved powers for Ofcom to take criminal action against named executives whose companies do not comply with Ofcom’s requests for information,” the government said. “These are introduced when technology companies fail to meet their new responsibilities.”

The proposed law will also require businesses to uphold freedom of expression and restore unjustifiably removed material.

It will also prohibit tech companies from discriminating against certain political positions, and Ofcom will hold them accountable for the arbitrary removal of journalistic content, the government added.

($ 1 = 0.7068 pounds)

Reporting by Michael Holden

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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