Culture secretary Matt Hancock has unveiled plans to work with tech companies, children’s charities and other stakeholders to create new legislation to make the internet and social media as safe as possible in the UK.
It is part of a series of measures to tackle online harm. The Government has announced a White Paper to report later this year and will consult with the industry on the scope of the legislation.
“Digital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better,” said Hancock. “At the same time I have been clear that we have to address the Wild West elements of the Internet through legislation, in a way that supports innovation. We strongly support technology companies to start up and grow, and we want to work with them to keep our citizens safe.”
While welcoming the announcement of legislation to improve safety and reduce harm online, the BPI has responded by pressing the Government to use this opportunity to bring in new measures to boost the UK’s creative industries to help maintain growth after Brexit.
“The BPI welcomes the Government’s decision to bring forward a Bill to address online harm,” said Taylor. “This is a vital opportunity to protect consumers and boost the UK’s music and creative industries. The BPI has long pressed for internet intermediaries and online platforms to take responsibility for the content that they promote to users.
“Government should now take the power in legislation to require online giants to take effective, proactive measures to clean illegal content from their sites and services. This will keep fans away from dodgy sites full of harmful content and prevent criminals from undermining creative businesses that create UK jobs.”
The BPI said any legislation should include:
- A new “duty of care” for online intermediaries and platforms, requiring them to take effective action to ensure their services are not abused by businesses encouraging consumers to access content illegally;
- Establish a new fast-track process for blocking illegal sites.
- Place a requirement on platforms to block repeat illegal posting of the same content and to remove the accounts of repeat infringers.
- Bring in penalties for online operators that do not, as required by law, provide transparent contact and ownership information to consumers and businesses.
Search engines, which agreed a Code of Practice in 2017, now cooperate in reducing the exposure of illegal sites in the top ranking of search pages. Legislation could further strengthen the position of rights holders to ensure that infringing content is swiftly removed.
The BPI said 63 injunctions are in place against infringing sites. It has also been active in tackling stream-ripping piracy.