The UK government is slated to pass the online safety bill that could make “criminally liable” the tech giant CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg as it would require social media firms to regulate the content consumed freely online by children and minors.The bill proposes up to two years’ imprisonment for tech executives should they fail to protect children against unwanted and harmful content online.
This would include emails, SMS and MMS messages, one-to-one live aural communications, or content of any nature that puts teenagers and children in the way of self-harm, according to the bill on the British government’s website.
Tech giants obligated to perform risk assessment for online content
The amendments made on January 17 set out the duties of the corporate firms regarding risk assessments which apply in relation to all regulated user-to-user services. It will enable the authorities to scan any sufficiently illegal content by conducting the risk assessment online. It is the “duty [of social media giants] to take appropriate steps to keep an illegal content risk assessment up to date, including when OFCOM [the UK communications regulator] makes any significant change to a risk profile that relates to services of the kind in question,” the bill proposed.
Therefore, the companies are expected to remove all illegal content ranging from “child sexual abuse,” “controlling or coercive behavior,” “extreme sexual violence,” “fraud,” “hate crime,” “inciting violence,” “illegal immigration and people smuggling,” “promoting or facilitating suicide,” “promoting self-harm,” “revenge porn,” “sexual exploitation,” and “terrorism.”
Tech giants will also be required to “prevent children from accessing harmful and age-inappropriate content.” They will also be required to “enforce age limits and age-checking measures” as well as to “publish risk assessments” to protect the population under 18.
The legislation, following the required amendments led by UK officials Miriam Cates and Sir Bill Cash, was sent to the House of Commons on Tuesday. British lawmakers, in the House of Commons, threatened the tech billionaires with jail if they failed to comply with the online safety bill, adding that it is their duty to protect minors against online harmful content.
In a statement published earlier yesterday, UK’s culture secretary Michelle Donelan noted that she had worked “extensively” with Members of the House on a number of amendments that have been tabled for the Report stage of the Online Safety Bill.”These constructive discussions have reached a positive conclusion which enhances Bill’s ability to keep children safe online, and tackle illegal activity,” she stressed.