UK government moves to implement new ‘duty of care’ tech policy

Working with the Home Office, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sports (DCMS) has today published it’s joint  ‘Online Harms White Paper’ – outlining the UK government’s intent on better monitoring and regulating all UK digital enterprises.

Propositioned last May, the UK government intends to put forward a ‘duty of care mandate’ for all technology/digital incumbents ensuring consumer safety and audience protections from ‘harmful content’.

In its mandate, the UK government has confirmed that it will establish a new regulatory framework, ensuring that ‘companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services’.

Policy enforcement and compliance will be overseen by the establishment of a new ‘independent digital regulator – which will further advice stakeholders on online safety, audience protections and the adaptation of new rules/standards.

Strengthening the regulator’s position, the body will be allowed to issue substantial fines, block IP access and impose direct liability on a technology firm’s leadership and corporate governance.

At present, the UK government is assessing how to develop the independent regulator, and whether its new watchdog will be composed by a new or existing body.

Whilst the majority of UK business news sources have focused on the mandate demanding that social media platforms such Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to undertake reforms.

Nevertheless, in the update DCMS Secretary Jeremy Wright stated that all digital and technology incumbents should adhere to policy directives and requirements.

Wright said: “The era of self-regulation for online companies is over. Voluntary actions from industry to tackle online harms have not been applied consistently or gone far enough. Tech can be an incredible force for good and we want the sector to be part of the solution in protecting their users. However, those that fail to do this will face tough action.

”We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to go online, and the best place to start and grow a digital business and our proposals for new laws will help make sure everyone in our country can enjoy the Internet safely.”

Presenting the white paper to Sky News, Jeremy Wright detailed that DCMS was reviewing implementing ‘GDPR-level fines’, which could lead to a maximum fine of 4% on a company’s annual turnover.

In a supporting statement,  Home Secretary Sajid Javid added: “The tech giants and social media companies have a moral duty to protect the young people they profit from. Despite our repeated calls to action, harmful and illegal content – including child abuse and terrorism – is still too readily available online.

“That is why we are forcing these firms to clean up their act once and for all. I made it my mission to protect our young people – and we are now delivering on that promise.”

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