There’s a good chance that you might have head about the new internet laws that the UK government are thinking of passing. They announced them and published a white paper on what the laws should cover just a few months ago, and the possible laws made quite a few headlines in news publications around the world. So, you probably read an article or saw a news broadcast regarding them.
And there’s also a good chance that you might have completely forgotten all about these new UK internet laws. After all, they aren’t constantly in the news anymore. So, we thought it was time to have a little refresher. If the laws do come into force in the near future – which is highly likely – then you will certainly need to be aware of them. So, why not get one step ahead and find out more about the changes that are taking place to web user’s use of the internet?
In this blog post, we’ll go over the basics of the new UK internet laws for 2019 and will see just how they will affect your internet usage.
Why do we need laws on the Internet?
First of all, let’s think about why it’s necessary that the UK does create some laws regarding use of the internet fairly soon. That way, you will be able to easily assess your use of it to make sure that you are behaving in a legal and respectable manner. As the laws won’t be coming into effect just yet, there is still time to read up on them and become familiar on them, as well as the reasons why they are required. Here are a few of the main reasons why people were keen to see the laws introduced.
Stop online bullying
We all know that bullying and harassment online are big issues these days. So, one of the main reasons for these new laws to be implemented is that internet users will be able to browse online and use the internet safely and without fear of being harassed or bullied. Once the laws come into force, it is believed that there will be very strong consequences for anyone who is found to be attacking anyone online. Bullies and harassers will no longer be able to hide behind masks and disguises, and so will be able to be brought to justice.
Prevent the spread of fake news
One other issue that is causing some very big problems online and in the offline world as well is the current spread of fake news. Fake news is also known as misinformation and it is very rife online at the minute now. It has even started spilling into offline media as well and sometimes it can be very difficult to tell whether some information is actually true or not. This can be very problematic during elections and major political events as fake news will very quickly spread and could make people develop some very dubious opinions. For instance, lots of political experts blame the Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump on all of the fake news and misinformation that was being spread at the time. So, the UK government are looking to stop the spread of all these fake news to make sure that the country’s citizens are a lot better informed and educated when it comes to the next big political decision or election.
To make big online corporations accountable and responsible
A lot of internet experts and politicians believe that the big online social media corporations do not take enough responsibility at the minute. They believe that the big firms, including the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Google, do not regulate the content that they show users and what users are allowed to post on their platforms. As a result, the new laws will make it an obligation for these big corporations to take a much bigger responsibility for all of the content that appears on their platforms. Not only that, though, but they will also be held accountable if some harmful material or content was posted and they fail to take action against it. It has yet to be decided how a corporation will be held accountable or punished if they were to be found in breach of the new UK internet laws, but that is information that the government will soon be releasing.
What will be changed by the UK Internet laws
As you can see then, there will be some big changes made in order to accommodate these new UK internet laws. Thankfully, there won’t be many changes that internet users will notice personally. That’s because most of the big changes will mainly affect the big online platforms, such as Facebook and Google. It will still be really useful for you to be aware of the changes that might come into play, though. Here are some of the biggest changes that the laws will bring once they are enforced.
Online platforms are responsible for user content
Right now, online social media websites aren’t responsible for the content and material that their users post. However, that will certainly no longer be the case if the laws do come into place. Once the laws are enforced, every single online platform and website will be completely responsible for the material that its users publish and share. So, if a user were to post something that could be seen as illegal, harmful or abusive, it would be up to the platform to act quickly and remove it. They would also need to discipline the user in question. However, if the corporation were not to act and simply ignored the content, then they would be acting illegally and could be prosecuted.
Online platforms are required to tackle illegal content
As briefly mentioned above, platforms will need to take action as soon as possible when they are notified of illegal content. Of course, they should aim to delete the post as soon as they can. It may also be necessary for them to temporarily suspend or block the user in question. This can prevent them from resharing their content once they have realised that it has been removed from the platform.
A regulator will enforce all policies
In order to make sure that all online corporations are following these important new laws and regulations, the government will appoint an independent regulator to enforce all of the various policies. It is this regulator who has the chance to decide whether or not to fine and punish a corporation for not taking any notice of the new laws that are rolled out. If necessary, they will also be able to block entire sites and take things further by extending personal liability to certain managers within the corporations who might not be taking any notice of the new internet laws.
Internet users will be able to make complaints against all content
At the minute, if a social media users sees a post or some content that offends them or attacks them in any way, all they can do is simply report it. Most of the time, content that is reported is completely ignored. That will all change once the new UK internet laws take effect. Internet users will be able to make official complaints against any offensive or illegal content that they see. The laws will then dictate that companies and online corporations respond to these complaints as quickly as they can.
Online platforms will need to create reports on harmful content they find
Even though these laws probably won’t prevent the creation of illegal content, they should certainly help reduce its spread and visibility. As it is still expected that there will still be a number of harmful posts still posted onto social media, even though at a very reduced rate, platforms will now be expected to create reports on this kind of content. These reports will be published to the general public, so there is complete transparency.
Codes of practice will be in place during elections
As we have already seen just how dangerous the spread of fake news can be during elections, there will now be some new codes of practices that will be put into place for all future elections. These can help to minimise the effect that fake news and misinformation will have on the general public, as it should have a much weaker sway when it comes to influencing their votes.
Strategies will be implemented to help people spot misinformation
The laws will also help people to spot and identify fake news as well, as some strategies will be rolled out to help with the identification of misinformation.
As you can see then, there are some really big changes to come to the online world in the near future. Understandably, all of these changes will be for the best as they help to reshape and improve the UK’s use of the internet for the better. Hopefully, knowing about these new internet laws will help you online in the future too.