Britain’s government is considering emboldening its media watchdog, Ofcom, with powers to issue large fines for tech platforms whose video content is deemed “harmful” to youngsters.
The proposal, introduced by U.K. politicians just before Parliament’s summer break, which lasts from July 25 to September 7, would allow Ofcom to find companies up to 5% of their revenue—or block them from operating in Britain at all—if they fail to prevent youths viewing violence, pornography and other harmful content.
“These new rules are an important first step in regulating video-sharing online, and we’ll work closely with the government to implement them,” an Ofcom spokeswoman told the BBC.
Like much in Westminster, however, the new plan is far from certain. It fulfills Britain’s obligation to meet E.U. digital safety standards, which will not apply if the country exits the union, as planned, on October 31. If it uncouples from Brussels without a deal, there is no obligation to keep the plan in place.
Children’s groups have welcomed the proposal, which comes at a time of heightened anxiety over online content. In the U.S., mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have poured scrutiny on “chan” websites—forums whose currency is often abusive and violent images and video. Andy Burrows, of the child-protection charity NSPCC, said the British government’s new plan was a chance “to finally hold sites to account if they put children at risk.”