A ‘Digital Charter’ to cover how new technologies and the internet will be regulated to protect users will be introduced if the Conservatives win the election.
Launching its manifesto on Thursday, the party said the charter would encourage technology businesses and the online commerce sector, as well as provide for access to talent from abroad and handling security online.
Many of the provisions of the proposed charter are targeting social media companies, which the Government has criticised for failing to protect users.
As Home Secretary, Theresa May spoke about making Britain the safest place in the world to be online.
The Prime Minister’s election manifesto declared that her Government would achieve this by “pushing internet companies to deliver on their commitments to develop technical tools to identify and remove terrorist propaganda”.
This has been a controversial area, with researchers such as Professor Peter Neumann at King’s College London finding that face-to-face interactions are far more influential in radicalisation than the internet.
The current Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has criticised internet companies for failing to take down terrorist and harmful content.
Stressing that party disagrees with those who say “it is not for the government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet”, the manifesto explained what regulations the Conservatives wanted to introduce.
The party said it would “put a responsibility on industry not to direct users – even unintentionally – to hate speech, pornography, or other sources of harm”.
It would “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.”
“We will also create a power in law for government to introduce an industry-wide levy from social media companies and communication service providers to support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms, just as is already the case with the gambling industry.”