• Ofcom to regulate tech giants in UK Government crack down
  • Fines set to be great than £250,000 or 5% of company operating revenue
  • Ofcom one step closer to become “super regulator”

Ofcom HQ London

Ofcom: One step closer to becoming “super regulator”

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is set to be granted new regulatory powers to ensure Facebook, YouTube and Instagram will comply with “minimum standards” for video sharing and live streaming.

In the first serious crackdown on social media, the UK Government will look to green light Ofcom as the legal body to penalise technology firms that fail to comply with robust age verification checks and parental controls to ensure children are not exposed to violent or indecent content.

Ofcom will police, investigate and fine video sharing and live streaming platforms to protect from “harmful” content which includes violence, child abuse and pornography, according to a report by the Telegraph.

Facebook, YouTube and Instagram will be among those firms under the spotlight and could be fined millions of pounds if found in breach of the new measures.

As well as issuing fines worth up to 5% of the company’s revenues with maximum fines to be greater than £250,000, Ofcom will also have the power to “suspend” and or “restrict” the technology giants services in the UK.

The news was “quietly given the go-ahead” this summer and comes before the Government’s White Paper plans for a statutory duty of care to combat online harms, which covers social media firms’ and messaging apps’ entire output and not just video.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “These rules are an important first step,” and points to Ofcom’s opportunity to become a “super-regulator” with policing online content.

Ofcom will also get “appropriate information gathering” powers to order the firms to hand over data or algorithms, which have been blamed for driving content to vulnerable children.

Facebook has also been widely criticised after failing to take down videos of the livestreamed Christchurch mosque terrorist killings, while YouTube has come under fire for failing to take action against far-right extremism and “drill” videos that incite gang violence.

The Culture Department listed eight key measures expected of video-sharing platform including “effective” age verification systems, “transparent and user-friendly” mechanisms for users to report or flag videos and robust complaints systems.

The regulatory move is designed to meet the UK’s obligations to the European Union (EU), however according to the BBC, the obligations may not be required if Brexit occurs in October. 

The appointment of Ofcom is an interim measure for regulation until a separate online harms regulator is appointed at a later time.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “The implementation of the AVMSD [Audiovisual Media Services Directive] is required as part of the United Kingdom’s obligations arising from its membership of the European Union and until the UK formally leaves the European Union all of its obligations remain in force.” 

however according to the BBC