UK Plans To Introduce Social Media Legal ‘Code Of Practice’

UK To Introduce Social Media Regulation

If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that social media sites can be very free and easy with how and who our information is shared with. With so many of us practically living our social lives through these mediums, there is often a lot of information we put on there that we would perhaps prefer to keep out of the public domain per se.

There is, however, largely one major problem. Namely, that practically no government in the western world has any set guidelines or rules regarding how these sites should both operate and behave. A factor not helped by the fact that many have been reluctant to effectively do it themselves.

In a report via the BBC though, it appears that the UK may be one of the first. New proposals would see, in effect, a regulatory body created. One with the capability to both monitor, report and perhaps most importantly, fine social media sites (and internetcompanies in general) who act against its terms.

Online Harms White Paper

The proposals, known as the Online Harms White Paper can be read in full via the link here. In a nutshell, however, they will specifically look to cover the spread of what can be called ‘hateful’ or ‘terrorist speech’ on the internet.

If a website is found to be violating these terms, then fines can be imposed accordingly.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “The era of self-regulation for online companies is over.” – In other words, they had the chance to do it themselves and didn’t! A fair point.

While this is just in the proposals stage, it could have a far-reaching effect. Specifically towards the standards expected by online companies. Instances such as online bullying would make sites accountable. In addition, it could also potentially extend to the blocking of certain websites entirely.

Free Speech

As you might imagine, free speech advocates are more than a little concerned about this. On the whole, however, I honestly do believe that the internet as a whole does require regulation. Particularly social media sites. Who have (metaphorically, or perhaps not) been allowed to get away with murder for far too long!

What do you think? Are these proposals a good idea? Would it be an issue to free speech? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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