According to officials, tech companies will be prohibited from removing news information from their platforms in the UK until a hearing on an appeal of the decision has taken place.
According to a revision in the internet safety bill, articles that violate the terms and conditions of a service cannot be taken down or hidden before the publisher has been notified and has obtained the outcome of any platform appeals.
The law’s revision aims to prevent a recurrence of the situation from the previous year, when YouTube abruptly removed the digital station TalkRadio from its platform for breaking its content policies. Twelve hours later, it was reinstalled.
Nadine Dorries, the cultural secretary, stated that access to high-quality journalism is essential for democracy. She continued, “We’ve seen tech companies arbitrarily eliminate genuine news with little transparency, and this could have a significant negative effect on public dialogue. These additional safeguards will prevent it from happening.
The amendment addresses concerns that the sections of the bill on safeguarding users from harmful information could encourage tech firms to be excessive in removing or downgrading content. It applies to the largest tech platforms, such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
The new clause does not apply to illegal content, also known as priority offenses in the bill, which includes material that can be removed without review and covers offenses including supporting terrorism and child sex abuse. Additionally, it won’t apply to media organizations that are subject to sanctions, including the Kremlin-backed RT and Sputnik.
Other changes mandate that Ofcom, the communications watchdog, examine the bill’s effects on news publisher content within two years of its enactment. Additionally, there will be more safeguards for reader comments on articles. Next week, the bill is scheduled to return to the legislature before being put into effect early in 2019.
The modifications, according to the News Media Association, which represents 900 publications in the local, regional, and national news sectors, are “vital” for preserving press freedom.
According to Sayra Tekin, director of legal at the NMA, “these revisions are crucial to ensure consumer access to accurate, timely, and reliable news and information online” and to maintain media freedom. The online safety bill will aid in the fight against the deluge of false and misleading information online by ensuring that content from recognized news publishers cannot be arbitrarily removed by platforms.
The government also disclosed some of the offensive content that it wants tech companies to remove. These fall under the headings of advocating self-harm, promoting eating disorders, and engaging in online abuse and harassment. Major platforms will have to specify in their terms and conditions, which Ofcom will be watching, how they will handle that content, including whether it would lead to takedowns.