Social media trolls in Britain can now face up to two years of imprisonment for sharing content that causes ‘psychological harm’ under new British government regulations, as per reports.
Under the supervision of the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the Online Safety Bill is aimed at regulating big tech companies and making them more liable for their user-generated harmful content hosted on their social media platforms, ranging from child sexual exploitation to terrorism.
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has been taking into consideration the direction from the Law Commission to base posting harmful content on “potential psychological harm”.
The Online Safety Bill is to consider the “harmful effect” of a message instead of checking “indecent” or “grossly offensive” content in a message which marks a drastic change in approach.
Culture secretary Nadine Dorries could probably add more measures to the bill set to be tabled in the Parliament next month. A government spokesman noted, “We are making our laws fit for the digital age.” and added, “Our comprehensive Online Safety Bill will make tech companies responsible for people’s safety and we are carefully considering the Law Commission’s recommendations on strengthening criminal offences.”
While Ofcom Chief Dame Melanie Dawes acknowledged that the bill would not completely transform the scale of online harm saying, “We’re not going to have a complete transformation, certainly not quickly in the scale of harm, that’s out there.”
According to reports, under the new law, social media companies will have to carry out regular risk assessments and monitor the nature of harmful content published on their platforms, and also take action against those posts including any already existing illegal content. Regulator Ofcom will keep a watch on the tech companies. In the case of non-compliance, the companies might face multibillion-dollar fines and potential criminal charges.