Under the strict new rules that are proposed by the Labour Party, social media firms could likely face huge fines if they fail to protect children and young people on their platforms.
Today, Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the party, gave a speech where he said that the digital market has been “distorted.” He outlined plans to make sure that sites have a legal duty of care over their users.
Watson will support the creation of a new regulator with the power to impose a fine on social media companies up to four percent of their global turnover if they fall foul of these responsibilities.
He stated: “For the duty of care to be effective we need penalties that seriously affect companies’ bottom lines.”
The amount is in line with the current penalties that are under data protection laws and could result in fines that are worth billions of dollars.
The shadow culture secretary proposed a new Digital Bill of Rights that grant citizens greater control over how their personal information is collected and monetised.
In addition, the Labour Party would consider breaking up tech giants, which Watson describes as “data monopolies,” amid the concerns that their size is affecting competition.
He stated: “The scale of the largest companies is rightly the subject of scrutiny. We should take seriously the calls to break them up if it is in the public interest.”
The comments will intensify the pressure on companies such as Facebook, which have been slapped with growing criticism amid various safety concerns and the use of customer information.
Yesterday, Margot James, the digital minister, said that the upcoming white paper of the government will reveal new laws to make sure that social media sites will remove illegal content and prioritise the protection of their users.
Watson also outlined new rules that are known as digital democracy guarantees. These are aimed to protect democracy from online misinformation and extremism.
At an event that was held in Whitechapel today, he stated: “Digital platforms are ideally suited to propagandists peddling bigotry and division to the disillusioned.”
Under the plans, tech companies will need to make sure that all political advertisers that target the citizens of Britain are located in the United Kingdom. They will also need to clearly label all automated accounts.
Tech companies would also be legally required to remove illegal content such as calls for violence and hate speech.
The comments come as Sir Nick Clegg, the head of global affairs of Facebook, has been requested to appear in front of a parliamentary committee to present evidence in an inquiry into the harassment of MPs on social media.