The United Kingdom Proposes Internet Firm Levy With Web Safety Plan

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On Wednesday, Britain published proposals for a levy on internet providers and social media firms to help finance its online safety strategy that is designed to stop abuse, bullying, and other risks for children and vulnerable users.

Theresa May,the British Prime Minister and her ministers have been critical of firms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, repeatedly calling on them to exert more efforts to put a stop to the spread of extremist content online and help the victims of abuse.

PM May first pledged for a levy on “social media companies and communication service providers” in her election manifesto for 2017.

On Wednesday, Karen Bradley, the digital minister, published suggestions for an Internet Safety Strategy including the levy, a code of practice on removing humiliating or intimidating content from social media sites, and online safety classes in schools.

“The internet has been an amazing force for good, but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people,” said Bradley in a statement.

“We need an approach to the internet that protects everyone without restricting growth and innovation in the digital economy.”

The said government proposal, which invites opinions from the industry before being formed into legislation, said that the levy would initially be endeavoured on a voluntary basis.

“We may then seek to underpin this levy in legislation, to ensure the continued and reliable operation of the levy,” said the document. “The levy will not be a new tax on social media.”

It compared the proposed levy to an existing one that is paid on a voluntary basis by the gambling sector to help fund charitable work.

Social media firms have normally been exempted from regulatory fees that can apply to communication services.

Recently-passed regulations in Germany give social media networks 24 hours to block or delete obviously criminal content and seven days to handle less clear-cut cases.