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Big tech could face big fines for failing to protect UK kids

Big tech could face big fines for failing to protect UK kids

UK GOV is looking to give Ofcom more powers to fine tech firms who allow harmful video content onto their platform likely to be seen by children. Under the proposals, from September 2020, Ofcom would take complete control over outlets who fail to protect children from pornography, violence and extremism. This would be an interim measure whilst a dedicated regulator

UK GOV is looking to give Ofcom more powers to fine tech firms who allow harmful video content onto their platform likely to be seen by children.

Under the proposals, from September 2020, Ofcom would take complete control over outlets who fail to protect children from pornography, violence and extremism. This would be an interim measure whilst a dedicated regulator is formed.

The proposals were signed off in principle just before the long, irresponsible parliamentary recess kicked in and would see tech firms on the hook for up to five per cent of their global revenues. In extreme or repeat situations, the company could be blocked from UK IP addresses (because we all know how well that works).

There has been a spike in recent years of tech platforms failing to ensure that vulnerable users are protected from online content, with self-harm videos posing a particular problem at enfant terrible de jour Facebook.

Officially, children shouldn’t actually be using social network sites like Facebook and Instagram until they are at least 13, but with very flimsy age identification systems and a cavalcade of parents and older friends happy to help kids set up accounts, it’s almost impossible to enforce such rules.

“The implementation of the AVMSD [Audiovisual Media Services Directive] is required as part of the United Kingdom’s obligations arising from its membership of the European Union and until the UK formally leaves the European Union all of its obligations remain in force,” a DCMS spokesperson told the BBC.

It’s worth noting, however, that this legislation would be designed to meet EU regulations under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, and could be changed or ditched in the increasingly likely event of a no-deal Brexit.

Although five per cent doesn’t sound like a lot, in the case of Facebook, which made $55.8bn in 2018, that would be a $2.8bn (£2.31bn) fine, small change to the big Zuck, but not to be sniffed at either. μ

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