UK government ‘considering internet regulator’

The government is reportedly considering a range of options to tackle extremist and illegal online content, including a new internet regulator which could hold tech firms such as Facebook and Google accountable.

BuzzFeed News said it had seen draft documents drawn up by the Home Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport which propose a regulatory body along the lines of broadcasting regulator Ofcom, which would cover internet content.

The documents reportedly outline plans to make social media and internet firms liable for content published on their platforms and also impose time limits of a few hours for firms to take down illegal or extremist content. It would also create a regulatory framework for “social harms” originating on the internet.

Responding to the reports on BuzzFeed which said the plans were in the "development stage", the government said it was “considering all options” for internet governance including whether a regulator is needed. It has previously announced plans to publish a white paper later this year detailing plans to reform existing laws applicable to internet firms.

The government statement read: “This winter we will publish a white paper setting out new laws to tackle the full range of online harms and set clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe.”

The proposals reportedly being drawn up echo measures which are due to be proposed by the European Commission in September, and announced earlier this month.

These propose legislation ordering tech firms to remove militant and illegal content within a matter of hours after it is flagged.

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