The Tories have remembered their manifesto pledge to regulate the internet
REMEMBER THE CONSERVATIVE party’s 2017 election manifesto? Those that wrote it don’t, if the last 15 months are anything to go by. Success has many fathers, the saying goes, but this particular paternity mishap saw the Tories throw away a perfectly good 17-point lead in less than a month. Say what you like about Dan Brown books: bad as they are, they never ground the mechanisms of government to a halt.
So policies from the cursed tome have been conspicuous by their absence – but that’s about to change. Buzzfeed News reveals that the Conservative Party has recovered a page from the blue manifesto, and intends to turn it into actual legislation as if it were actually a functioning government. The policy? That old crowdpleaser of forcing tech giants to develop a social conscience.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright are said to be considering a mandatory code of practice for social media sites, forcing the owners to take down illegal content within a strict time limit or face financial penalties. Age verification for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is also being mulled on, because similar plans for porn are going just swimmingly.
To this end, the government is considering creating a regulatory body to police the internet, similar to Ofcom, only with a far less manageable brief. This is the point where we pull our favourite internet stat out of the bag: every day, 65 years worth of YouTube video is uploaded. Suddenly ordering swear words by their offensiveness doesn’t seem such a bad way to earn a living.
Hate speech, child abuse images and terrorist content is likely to be covered by the takedown rules. In Germany similar legislation passed last year, with the deadline set to 24 hours and the fine set to a maximum of €50m.
For reference, here’s how the Conservative manifesto pegged it back when polling predicted a landslide: “Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet. We disagree.”
To borrow the same somewhat self-important tone: Some people say that a government desperately clinging onto power should risk embarrassing defeat with controversial legislation. We disagree. µ