Data Driven Futures

Ofcom to ‘fine tech giants for toxic videos’

Written by Hannah McGrath

Tech giants such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram could face fines worth tens of millions for posting harmful videos, under new powers being handed to broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

The plans currently being drawn up by ministers give Ofcom the power to impose fines worth up to five per cent of a company’s revenue, if online platforms are judged to have failed in their duty to prevent young users seeing pornography, violence and other harmful material.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Ofcom would assume the new powers from September 2020 and would exercise them until the government has finalised plans, which emerged in April, for an independent online harms regulator governing all online content across tech and social media platforms.

Ofcom would also be able to block those companies who fail to comply with tougher online protections from operating in the UK.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the move allows the UK to comply with the European Union’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which the UK will need to adopt until it formally leaves the EU.

Should the UK leave the EU without a deal in October or later, the government will not be required to transpose it into law.

Antony Walker, deputy chief executive of industry think tank techUK, said: “These new rules were agreed by the EU and the UK government is now consulting on how they should be implemented.

“We urge government to take a balanced and proportionate approach and ensure that the implementation is consistent with its wider approach to online harms – key to achieving this will be clear and precise definitions across the board, and a proportionate sanctions and compliance regime.”