Social media companies to face huge fines under new online safety laws

Future Voices: What effect is social media on us? Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Future Voices: What effect is social media on us? Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Details of a new law geared at cracking down on online abuse, catfishing and Internet scams will be unveiled today.

The Online Safety Bill has been designed to improve reduce the risks of the world wide web, particularly for children, the first draft of which will be published today.

Among the issues the new bill will set out to address are cyber bullying, online scams and romance fraud - commonly known as catfishing - which sees people create false personas to lure unsuspecting people into relationships and manipulate them into sending money.

The draft bill will also place greater on social media websites and apps to remove illegal and harmful content, such as child sexual abuse, suicide content and terrorist material.

And the proposals will also see broadcasting watchdog Ofcom given the power to fine companies that fail in this duty of care up to £18m - or 10pc of annual global turnovers, and the power to block access to sites.

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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the grants have 'helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced'. - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Images


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Digital secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Today, the UK shows global leadership with our groundbreaking laws to usher in a new age of accountability for tech and bring fairness and accountability to the online world.

"We will protect children on the Internet, crack down on racist abuse on social media and through new measures to safeguard our liberties and create a truly democratic digital age."

Home Secretary Priti Patel admitted her own parents probably would not have reached the 70-point thr

Home Secretary Priti Patel admitted her own parents probably would not have reached the 70-point threshold - Credit: PA

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Home secretary Priti Patel added: "This new legislation will force tech companies to report online child abuse on their platforms, giving our law agencies the evidence they need to bring these offenders to justice.

"Ruthless criminals who defraud millions of people and sick individuals who exploit the most vulnerable in our society cannot be allowed to operate unimpeded and we are unapologetic in going after them."

It comes following widespread calls for greater accountability for social media companies in light of online abuse and trolling.

The calls saw this newspaper join in a social media boycott highlighting the damage cyberbullying can do to people's mental health.

It saw football clubs boycott social media accounts for the course of a weekend - and in supporting it, this newspaper did not provide Twitter coverage of Norwich City's title-winning victory over Reading. 

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