Britain preparing to set up internet regulator

Donna Miller
September 22, 2018

A new white paper suggests that the United Kingdom government will propose that a new regulatory body, or two, could be set up to deal with online regulations.

Many big tech companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have already signed up to a voluntary European Union code of conduct pledging to remove illegal content, and at the beginning of this year Germany introduced a new law against hate speech, under which it can fine online platforms for not taking action to combat problematic content.

Ministers are under pressure to devise a workable system for regulating the "Wild West" of the internet without restricting free expression.

The body will regulate broadcasters, telecoms and postal communications, it said.

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The idea of a regulator for the internet is being discussed as part of these plans, but doesn't appear to be a sure thing at this stage.

These developments have stemmed from the United Kingdom governments vocal frustration with the inability or unwillingness of tech firms to react appropriately in a voluntary capacity to what the government views as unacceptable online behavior. "This has implications for the public's understanding of what protections apply online, versus traditional media". Many are also anxious that regulators may overreach and penalize content arbitrarily, potentially infringing on free speech. While details of the proposals have come to light, the department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) has said it is not ready to share any information at this time and will publish the white paper in the winter.

"We are considering all options, including what legislation will be necessary and whether a regulator is needed", Buzzfeed quoted a government spokesperson as saying.

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