Ofcom, which now watches TV and radio organisations like the BBC, will be able to hold tech and social media companies to account if they do not adequately protect users from harmful content, including that associated with terrorism and child abuse.
But Morgan did not say Wednesday whether the fines or more serious proposed penalties such as taking platforms offline were still being considered by May's successor, Boris Johnson. "They should apply both to the tech platforms as corporate entities, but we also think it's hugely important that we see a named director scheme, where named directors have the responsibility for upholding that duty of care". The consultation a year ago had considered forcing platforms to withdraw any services that facilitate extremely serious harms such as usage by terrorists.
Ofcom is described as having a "proven track record" in regulating telecoms in the United Kingdom, and the government hopes that greater powers will enable it to control, remove and prevent the appearance of content such as bullying, terrorism and child abuse.
Keeping people safe was something Facebook took extremely seriously, she said, and in recent years the company had tripled the number of people working on the issue to 35,000 and was using artificial intelligence to find and remove harmful content.
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Organisations including the Open Rights Group and Article 19 have criticised plans to introduce a statutory duty of care for internet companies, enforced by a regulator. The proposals will be fleshed out in coming months, and a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the regulator is likely be given the power to fine companies such as Facebook and Twitter if they fail to protect United Kingdom users from harmful content.
The announcement comes as the Government publishes its initial response to the public consultation on the Online Harms White Paper.
"As the internet continues to grow and transform our lives it is essential that we get the balance right between a thriving, open and vibrant virtual world, and one in which users are protected from harm", Britain's Digital Minister Nicky Morgan and Interior Minister Priti Patel said in a statement. They said it would apply to about five percent of United Kingdom businesses. Ofcom has an analogous role in regulating broadcast TV and Video-on-Demand services, and so should have transferable skills and people to take on the new role.
But Labour's shadow digital minister Tracy Brabin said it was "shameful" the government had still only published a part-response to a consultation rather than legislating already on the issues. Government will be setting up the direction of the policy while Ofcom would have the freedom to draw up and adapt the details. "We will work with the government to help ensure that regulation provides effective protection for people online and, if appointed, will consider what voluntary steps can be taken in advance of legislation".
Sky News reports that there has been "no confirmation of what punishments or fines the bolstered regulator will be able to hand out".