Jewish security chiefs have welcomed the prospect of an online regulator with “real teeth” after the Government’s Online Harms White Paper was launched this week.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said it represented “ambitious plans for a new system of accountability and oversight for tech companies, moving far beyond self-regulation”.
Jewish internet users have been among the religious and ethnic groups to have suffered most from online abuse and communal groups on Monday welcomed what many feel is a step-change in the Government’s approach.
The Community Security Trust (CST), which is charged with defending Jews from antisemitism, tweeted that the White Paper was “impressive in its scope and purpose in introducing a duty of care for online providers and a regulator with real teeth”.
Communications director Mark Gardner said CST had long been in discussions with the Government on this issue, adding: “The Paper is a significant step, but in particular we welcome the establishment of a new specialist regulator with the necessary powers to oversee the behaviour of social media companies.”
The Government said “the digital economy urgently needs a new regulatory framework to improve our citizens’ safety online” and outlined how tech companies could be fined or blocked for not tackling terrorist propaganda or child abuse online.
A 12-week public consultation begins this week and critics say it restricts free speech if the comments tech companies are forced to remove are not illegal.