British Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to completely overhaul the Internet in the UK, promising that ‘alternative media’ will be heavily regulated just like “mainstream newspapers.”
The controversial regulations will allow the British government to control what is allowed to be published online.
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According to the newly released Conservative manifesto, the British PM plans to reshape the internet landscape in a way that has never been done before – heavily restricting what citizens can post, share and publish online.
“Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet,” it says. “We disagree.”
Independent.co.uk reports: But perhaps most unusually they would be forced to help controversial government schemes like its Prevent strategy, by promoting counter-extremist narratives.
“In harnessing the digital revolution, we must take steps to protect the vulnerable and give people confidence to use the internet without fear of abuse, criminality or exposure to horrific content”, the manifesto claims in a section called ‘the safest place to be online’.
The plans are in keeping with the Tories’ commitment that the online world must be regulated as strongly as the offline one, and that the same rules should apply in both.
“Our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives offline,” the Conservatives’ manifesto says, explaining this justification for a new level of regulation.
“It should be as unacceptable to bully online as it is in the playground, as difficult to groom a young child on the internet as it is in a community, as hard for children to access violent and degrading pornography online as it is in the high street, and as difficult to commit a crime digitally as it is physically.”
The manifesto also proposes that internet companies will have to pay a levy, like the one currently paid by gambling firms. Just like with gambling, that money will be used to pay for advertising schemes to tell people about the dangers of the internet, in particular being used to “support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms”, according to the manifesto.
The Conservatives will also seek to regulate the kind of news that is posted online and how companies are paid for it. If elected, Theresa May will “take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy” – and crack down on Facebook and Google to ensure that news companies get enough advertising money.
If internet companies refuse to comply with the rulings – a suggestion that some have already made about the powers in the Investigatory Powers Act – then there will be a strict and strong set of ways to punish them.
“We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law,” the manifesto reads.
In laying out its plan for increased regulation, the Tories anticipate and reject potential criticism that such rules could put people at risk.
“While we cannot create this framework alone, it is for government, not private companies, to protect the security of people and ensure the fairness of the rules by which people and businesses abide,” the document reads. “Nor do we agree that the risks of such an approach outweigh the potential benefits.”