Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch is once again talking about the dangers of social media. This time, to the UK government. Asking them to “inject some urgency” into their plans for a new internet regulator.
Darroch published a piece in The Times yesterday titled “Social media is intoxicating but also a threat: we need regulations.” In it he wrote: “We only need to look back to the prolific spread of misinformation, online abuse and fake news in last month’s General Election to see the damage that unregulated online platforms are doing to our society.”
The government has already made plans to more strictly regulate online behavior, deeming it their responsibility to protect users. They published a white paperback in April 2019 detailing their plans. These new plans include the creation of a new independent watchdog that will be responsible for policing internet firms, and subjecting violators to fines or even bans, similar to the Irish legislation.
When these plans were announced, then-Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The internet can be brilliant at connecting people across the world, but for too long these companies have not done enough to protect users, especially children and young people, from harmful content. That is not good enough, and it is time to do things differently. We have listened to campaigners and parents, and are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe. Online companies must start taking responsibility for their platforms, and help restore public trust in this technology.”
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These laws aim to tackle violent/terrorist content, child sexual abuse and exploitation content, cyberbullying, incitement of violence and children’s exposure to inappropriate material online.
Darroch’s critique, however, is that the government is taking its sweet time implementing these plans, saying he had written to MPs directly asking for their support.
This isn’t Darroch’s first time criticizing social media. He’s been speaking out about the harms of social media since as far back as 2017.
The current move is to assign an interim watchdog, Ofcom, until the legislation is finally carried through. Ofcom already regulates the UK’s broadcast media.