Tuesday 11 February 2020 9:01 pm

Ofcom's powers expanded to include social media regulation

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is expected to be handed the responsibility of regulating internet platforms tomorrow, as the government publishes its response to a public consultation on online safety measures.

Digital media and culture secretary Nicky Morgan will announce Ofcom’s expanded role tomorrow morning, which will see the watchdog hold tech companies to account over the content of their online platforms.

Under new legislation, which is still being drafted, Ofcom would regulate online platforms such as Facebook and Youtube, and judge whether tech firms have breached a legal “duty of care” by exposing users to illegal and harmful content. 

The watchdog would also decide whether to fine or prosecute the companies, the Financial Times reported. 

A government white paper launched in April last year set out plans to fine or ban social media firms if they fail to tackle the publication of harmful material such as terrorist content, child sex abuse, harrassment and fake news.

However, critics of the proposals said that the measures could have the unintended effect of damaging the UK’s growing tech sector.

The Internet Association said the use of the term “duty of care” would create legal uncertainty and be “unmanageable” in practice. 

In addition, the IA said the proposed measures could raise serious unintended consequences for freedom of expression.