UK seeks payment from Google and Facebook to combat cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a growing problem, and the UK government has reached out to companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to try and tackle it. According to The Guardian, the government proposed a voluntary levy on tech players in an internet safety strategy released on 11 October.

A thorny issue

The internet safety green paper is a result of a consultation process which has been ongoing since February of this year. The full document has yet to be released, but the levy will apparently go towards solving issues like online bullying and the exposure of young children to pornography.

It also proposes a code of practice for social media and an annual transparency report on the subject of internet safety. Safety by design will also be encouraged in terms of tech start-ups creating new products.

Will tech players volunteer?

This is all to be implemented on a voluntary basis, and it may take some lengthy discussion to persuade tech companies to centralise their existing programmes that deal with issues such as cyberbullying.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley spoke on BBC Radio 4, defending the voluntary aspect of the scheme: “I don’t rule out legislating if that’s what we need to do but I’m hoping to do it working with the the companies.

“We are concluding on how best we do it. Taking legislation through the House of Commons and Lords is not the easiest way to do it.”

Bradley also suggested the government could change the status of some social media platforms to make them publishers, meaning more content regulation constraints.

Young people reporting inappropriate content

Nearly 20pc of 12-15-year-old participants in a study carried out for the green paper said they had encountered something on the internet that was “worrying or nasty in some way”.

The UK Labour party said that the announcement was not detailed enough, and called for more information around who exactly will pay the levy, and what information the government will be seeking from social media and tech firms.

The safety of children online is an issue in Ireland too, with a recent survey finding 69pc of teachers don’t feel qualified to teach good internet safety practices in school.

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