Tech giant bosses could be JAILED in Britain if their firms fail to protect users under new government plans to regulate social media
- Plans to protect social media users in the UK could see tech bosses penalised
- Government will announce plans next month to consult on how to regulate web
- Fines and jail terms are among punishments that could be meted out to bosses
Nicky Morgan will announce plans to consult on how best to protest social media users
Tech bosses could face fines or even a prison sentence if they fail to protect their users under new plans to regulate social media in the UK.
Next month the government will publish its response to a consultation on how social media companies can be policed in the UK following Brexit.
Ministers plan to create a statutory duty of care for tech firms that will be monitored by Ofcom.
As part of the duty it is expected that a ‘senior management liability’ will be introduced, meaning that directors of social media firms could have personal responsibility for their company’s failings, the Times reported.
To make sure the rules can be enforced, firms such as Facebook who are headquartered in the US will be forced to appoint a director based in this country.
This is the person who would be held accountable if their company breached new rules on protecting users.
Firms such as Google, run by CEO Sundar Pichai (pictured), would have to appoint a UK director who could be held personally responsible for transgressions
However tougher measures, such as an option to ask broadband providers to block access to certain websites or apps have been shelved.
It has been reported that to cover the costs of enforcing the new rules a levy on technology companies has been mooted.
The punishment for breaking the rules will be proportionate so smaller firms will not be hit with the same size of fines as behemoths such as Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook is among the firms likely to end up regulated in the UK
The broadcasting regulator Ofcom will create legally binding codes of practise that make it clear what tech firms must to in order to protect their users.
These will cover a range of subject areas from pornography and violence to terrorism and child abuse.
New regulations for internet companies were first considered under Theresa May over the summer, but pressure on her position meant that the laws were never brought forward.
However the move to regulate social media companies were in the Tory manifesto, which said: ‘We will legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.
‘Protecting children from online abuse and harms, protecting the most vulnerable from accessing harmful content and ensuring there is no safe space for terrorists to hide online.’
Earlier this month the Queen’s Speech promised to move forward with new legislation following the consultation, which received more than 2,000 responses.
Before a law in brought forward voluntary codes of practise will be releases to encourage companies to crack down on terrorists and child abusers using their services.
This is meant to encourage action to ‘tackle content that threatens our national security and the physical security of our children’ according to ministers.
Initially when the consultation was published over the summer concerns were raised that it could reduce press freedom, however the Conservatives promised to protect the free press in their manifesto.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nicky Morgan has said she supports tech bosses having a duty of care, saying at the party conference in September that social media firms should have a system of regulation similar to the financial sector.