- Britain's landmark Online Safety Bill seeks to combat the spread of harmful and illegal content on social media sites including Facebook, YouTube and TikTok.
- Lawmakers have called on the government to add more offences to the scope of the law, such as self harm, racial abuse and scam advertising.
- The bill will now include provisions outlawing content that features revenge porn, drug and weapons dealing, suicide promotion and people smuggling.
LONDON — The U.K. government has updated proposals to regulate online platforms with new criminal offences to tackle fraud and revenge porn.
Late last year, lawmakers wrapped up an inquiry into how online platforms deal with such material, concluding the government should add more offences to the scope of the law, such as self harm, racial abuse and scam advertising.
The government said Friday that the bill will now include extra-priority provisions outlawing content that features revenge porn, drug and weapons dealing, suicide promotion and people smuggling, among other offences.
It will also target individuals who send online abuse and threats, with criminal sentences ranging up to five years.
The government said it is considering further recommendations, including specific offences such as sending unsolicited sexual images and trolling epilepsy sufferers, tackling paid-for scam advertising, and bringing forward criminal liability for senior company executives at the tech firms.
The reforms — which must go through additional scrutiny in the U.K. Parliament before they become law — will shake up the way large tech firms respond to toxic content on their platforms, requiring them to be proactive in preventing users from being exposed to such material rather than only taking action after it has been flagged.
Failure to do so could result in fines of up to 10% of global annual revenues by U.K. media regulator Ofcom, or the blocking of non-compliant sites altogether.
"The internet cannot be a safe haven for despicable criminals to exploit and abuse people online," said British Interior Minister Priti Patel, in a statement Friday.
"Companies must continue to take responsibility for stopping harmful material on their platforms. These new measures will make it easier and quicker to crack down on offenders and hold social media companies to account."