Thursday 16 January 2020 12:17 pm

Sky boss calls for ‘urgency’ over social media regulation

The UK should “inject some urgency” into its plans for a new internet regulator due to the societal damage caused by unchecked internet platforms, the boss of Sky has said.

Jeremy Darroch called for ministers to tackle so-called online harms, warning that the “promise of self-regulation hasn’t worked”.

“We only need to look back to the prolific spread of misinformation, online abuse and fake news in last month’s General Election to see the damage that unregulated online platforms are doing to our society,” he wrote in the Times this morning.

The government has set out proposals to crack down on online harms, including creating a duty of care for social media firms to ensure they protect their users.

The new regime would also see the creation of a new independent watchdog to police internet firms, who could face fines or even a ban if they breach the code.

But Darroch said the government had been too slow in rolling out its new plans, adding that he had written to MPs asking for their support in establishing a new regulator.

It comes after Lib Dem peer Lord McNally introduced a private member’s bill in the House of Lords calling for the appointment of media regulator Ofcom as an interim internet watchdog.

Darroch, who has led Sky since 2007, has previously slammed tech giants such as Google and Facebook for failing to take responsibility for the material posted to their platforms.

The government is this month set to issue its response to the consultation over its online harms white paper.

But Elle Todd, partner at law firm Reed Smith, warned that introducing new online harms regulations would be complicated.

“Any legislation in this area requires a very careful balancing of concerns around freedom of expression, as well as protection of the public,” she said.

“The detail of any statutory duty of care, as previously proposed, has far reaching repercussions and cannot be rushed.”