Online safety: Government announces new rules to tackle 'online harms'

Last updated at 05:25
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The UK government has laid out its plans to tackle "online harms" like cyber-bullying, fake news and keeping young people safe.

It wants to put in place a team called a regulator that will set out rules that tech companies will have to follow.

The regulator will be able to give out fines and force internet service providers to block companies that break the rules.

The idea of new rules was originally set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in May 2018 but now the government's plan are becoming clearer.

What do the rules say?

The government wants to hold internet companies to account for what is available on their sites, apps or social networks.

It says that they need to be more responsible for protecting young people - who in some cases aren't supposed to be using their sites.

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Some of the content on there isn't appropriate for certain age groups and the government want companies to be forced to work harder to manage that better.

A new regulator will set out a "code of best practice" that social networks and internet companies will have to work to.

The internet can be brilliant... but for too long these companies have not done enough to protect users, especially children and young people, from harmful content

Theresa May , UK Prime Minister

As well as Facebook, Twitter and Google, the rules would apply to messaging services like Snapchat and cloud storage services.

The regulator will have the power to fine companies and the company bosses. It will also be able to make search engines remove links to websites that break its rules.

What is in the "code of best practice"?

Some suggestions about what could be included in the "code of best practice" are things like tackling fake news by forcing social networks to employ fact-checkers and promote real news sources.

However, the government will ask the regulator to come up with the rules itself .

The white paper also says social media companies should give out yearly reports about how much harmful content has been found on their platforms.

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Concerns about the rules

Not everyone agrees with the plans.

Campaign group Article 19 warn that the government "must not create an environment that encourages the censorship of legitimate expression".

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