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Social Media firms That Fail to Protect Children to be Barred

Social media platforms that fail to protect children from harm online face being shut down under “history-making” new laws to be unveiled by the Government today (Wednesday). In an article for The Telegraph – which can be read below – Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, warns tech companies that they will have “no excuses” and “must face the consequences” if they fail to remove illegal and harmful content under a draft duty of care Bill.

The legislation – the first of its kind globally and designed to make Britain the safest country in the world online – follows a three-year campaign by The Telegraph for duty of care laws to protect children from online harms. Mr Dowden said the tech giants would not only face fines of up to £13 billion for breaches of the duty of care laws but could also see their websites blocked to UK users, with the toughest measures aimed at protecting children.

Social media giants including Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and Youtube would no longer be allowed to let under-aged children on to their sites with “no further questions asked” and would instead face sanctions for failing to enforce minimum age limits. Mr Dowden pledged that the Bill would finally turn the tide on racist, misogynistic and anti-semitic abuse online.

“Enough is enough. We’re all sick to death of the bile and the threats,” he said. “If it’s illegal, platforms like Facebook and Twitter will have to flag and remove online abuse quickly and effectively or face the consequences. The same goes if it breaches their terms and conditions. No more excuses.”

It came as Boris Johnson revealed his legislative agenda for the next year with more than two dozen new bills in the Queen’s Speech, including one to better protect freedom of speech on university campuses. The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will be introduced