January 26, 2023
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UK to fine tech companies that fail to remove self-harm material

LONDON — Britain’s authorities intends to make it unlawful to encourage others to hurt themselves on-line and can fine social media companies that fail to remove such material, as a part of a revamp of laws governing on-line habits.

Selling suicide is already unlawful, however Britain’s digital, tradition, media and sport ministry mentioned in an announcement that it now needed to require social media corporations to block a wider vary of content material.

“Social media firms can no longer remain silent bystanders … and they’ll face fines for allowing this abusive and destructive behavior to continue on their platforms under our laws,” Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan mentioned.

The Conservative authorities mentioned the proposals aimed to block photos and movies comparable to these seen by Molly Russell, a 14-year-old whose loss of life in 2017 sparked ongoing public concern.

In September, the coroner investigating her loss of life dominated that social media platforms had fed content material to her which “romanticized acts of self-harm by young people”.

Underneath the proposals, social media companies may have to remove and restrict customers’ publicity to material that intentionally encourages folks to hurt themselves.

Final week the federal government mentioned the brand new laws would additionally ban the distribution of sexually specific photos that have been manipulated to appear like they characteristic somebody who has not consented to seem in them.

Full particulars of the newest proposals — together with the legal penalties confronted by individuals who promote self-harm, and the size of fines confronted by companies — will come subsequent month when legislative amendments are put earlier than parliament.

The broader laws incorporating such penalties, often known as the On-line Security Invoice, has had a gradual passage by parliament since its first draft in Could 2021.

Earlier variations sought to ban “legal but harmful” material on-line, drawing criticism from tech companies and free-speech campaigners who mentioned the definition was too obscure and may very well be used to arbitrarily criminalize in any other case authorized habits.

Nevertheless, the invoice has been strongly supported by youngsters’s and psychological well being charities, and by folks searching for to restrict racist and sexist abuse on-line. — Reuters

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