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Executives at companies such as Meta, Google, Twitter and TikTok could face jail time earlier than expected if they do not co-operate with UK regulator Ofcom.
The UK government announced on Wednesday that executives could face prosecution or imprisonment for two months after a new internet security bill becomes law, instead of two years as it was drafted earlier.
The Internet Security Bill will be presented to lawmakers in parliament on Thursday and could become law later this year.
It aims to make it mandatory for social networking services, search engines and other platforms that allow people to share their own content to protect children, combat illegal activities and comply with their stated conditions.
The government said Wednesday that a number of new offenses have been added to the bill, which criminalizes top executives of technology firms for destroying evidence, absent or providing false information in Ofcom interviews, and for obstructing surveillance when entering company offices.
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok have been criticized for allowing them to distribute malicious content on their platforms. It is said that they are doing everything possible to remove it, but many lawmakers are not satisfied.
“Technical firms have not been prosecuted for damage, abuse and criminal behavior on their platforms,” said Nadine Doris, the UK’s digital technology minister. “Instead, they were left to celebrate their own homework.”
Doris said the Internet needs protections that are no different than a car seat belt.
“Given all the risks on the Internet, it’s reasonable to provide similar basic protection in the digital age,” Doris said. “If we do not act, we risk sacrificing the well-being and innocence of countless generations of children to the power of untested algorithms.”
In addition to the potential harassment of technical executives, Ofcom will also be entitled to fine companies up to 10% of their annual global turnover if they do not comply with the rules. To put this into context, Meta could be fined up to $ 10 billion based on revenue for 2021.
New recommendations included
The Department of Digital Technology, Culture, Media and Sport has agreed to adopt 66 recommendations to the Internet Security Bill, which were put forward by a joint committee last year. Recommendations included making accountable on online platforms for activities including promoting self-harm online, extreme pornography and cyber-flysch.
Damian Collins, chairman of the Joint Committee on the Internet Security Bill, believes that the Internet is something like the “Wild West” and welcomes the adoption of the recommendations as a “huge moment” for the security of Internet users around the world.
“The Joint Committee on the Internet Security Bill set out in December a clear list of recommendations on how to make the bill stronger while protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” Collins said in a statement.
“I am very pleased to see that the government has accepted so many of our recommendations, ensuring that we really make the UK the safest place for the internet in the world. The era of self-regulation for big technology has finally come to an end. the end. “
Now the bill has to go through a formal procedure that every bill has to go through before it becomes an act. This includes giving UK lawmakers the opportunity to discuss aspects of the legislation.