UK Government Will Impose Million-Dollar Fines On Technology Companies

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The UK Government finally announced this Tuesday, after an 18-month consultation process, its legal proposals to tackle abusive or illegal content on social media.

Technology companies that do not comply with the new regulations will face fines of up to 10% of their global turnover, with a limit of 18 million pounds sterling (about 20 million euros).

Under the new regulation, companies will be imposed varying degrees of “duty of vigilance”, and the protection of minors will be key to determining the different levels of responsibility. “Social media pages, applications and other services that publish content generated by users themselves, or that allow people to communicate with each other online,

In fact, Brussels on Tuesday laid the foundations for a new digital era in Europe by putting new rules on the table to delimit the playing field of big technology.

The European Commission proposes to burden the giants with responsibilities for everything they disseminate, such as removing illegal content, and forcing them to give public authorities access to their data to verify that they comply with the rules.

Ofcom, the independent British media regulatory body, will ultimately be in charge of implementing the new measures. It will have the capacity to impose financial penalties, block access to the pages and even take criminal action against managers.

This last option is reserved only for cases of reiteration and will require the approval of special legislation that the Government has undertaken to process. “I am a strong supporter of technology, but that cannot mean an open bar,” Minister Oliver Dowden said.

“We are moving towards a new era of responsibility in which companies must protect minors and the most vulnerable users, to restore confidence in that industry while we reinforce freedom of expression with new laws.”

The digital media, and any form of online journalism, will be excluded from the new law, as will the comments of the readers in those same media. Even specific provisions will be approved, the British Government has announced, to protect journalistic content that ends up being shared on social networks.

The field of application to which this offensive is directed includes video sharing platforms, instant messaging platforms, online forums, dating applications, pornographic sites, resale forums, cloud storage services and even video games.

Among the companies included in the highest vigilance duty, Level 1, are giants such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram or Twitter. All of them will be obliged to equip themselves with the appropriate reporting mechanisms, so that users can warn of abusive or illegal content and even demand its withdrawal.

“The new regulations will protect people’s online rights, and will strengthen the power of adult users to monitor their own security, while preventing companies from arbitrarily removing content. It will serve to defend the invaluable value of a free press, while also driving a new wave of digital growth based on building trust in technology companies, ”said Melanie Dawes, President of Ofcom.

The new regulatory framework will be financed through contributions from the companies themselves, starting from a certain threshold of their annual income.