Tech

UK steps up jail threats for tech execs who obstruct regulators

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries arrives at Downing Street on November 16, 2021 in London, Britain
FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries arrives at Downing Street on November 16, 2021 in London, Britain. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

March 16, 2022

By David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) – The UK government said on Wednesday executives of social media companies like Facebook could face up to two years in prison if they provide inaccurate information to official requests from regulators.

As part of the new legislation, due to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday, senior managers at tech companies will be “criminally liable for destroying evidence, failing to attend interviews with Ofcom or providing false information and obstructing regulators from entering company offices”.

The tougher legislation – which the government says aims to reduce online harassment and child sexual abuse – will result in companies being prosecuted within two months of the law being passed, rather than the two years previously planned.

“Tech companies have not been held accountable when damage, abuse and criminal behavior raged on their platforms. Instead, they have to correct their own homework,” said Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport.

The government also said it would provide clearer guidance on communications it sees as legal but harmful – like some forms of harassment or promoting eating disorders – that social media platforms need to suppress.

“This change removes any incentive or pressure for platforms to overly remove legal content or controversial comments, and will clean up the gray area around what is legal but harmful,” the government said.

A blanket exception applies to news content.

The changes were welcomed by a parliamentary committee that had examined previous bills but raised concerns from the Institute for Free Market Economics.

“The focus on criminal sanctions for tech bosses during a crackdown on free speech in Russia is frankly chilling,” said Matthew Lesh, the IEA’s public policy director.

“The proposed new communication offenses will force platforms to remove speech simply because there is a suspicion that it could cause psychological harm,” he added.

(Reporting by David Milliken, editing by William Maclean)

https://www.oann.com/uk-steps-up-jail-threat-for-tech-execs-who-obstruct-regulators/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uk-steps-up-jail-threat-for-tech-execs-who-obstruct-regulators UK steps up jail threats for tech execs who obstruct regulators

Emma Bowman

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