Report: UK Considering Regulating Google, Facebook Like News Organizations

REUTERS/Thomas Hodel
REUTERS/Thomas Hodel

British Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly considering regulating Facebook and Google the same way as news organizations.

According to Axios, the Prime Minister announced on Tuesday “that her cabinet is considering regulating Google and Facebook as news organizations, rather than being treated like pure tech companies,” which would make them responsible for illegal content on their platforms.

“While May and her Cabinet rush to stop fake news and terrorism from spreading — threatening steep fines — in the United States, Congress has yet to hold its first hearing with the companies. Silicon Valley has also responded more slowly stateside than in Europe,” Axios reports. “Regulating a company like Google or Facebook like a news company instead of a tech company means that they would be responsible for the content that appears on their sites — so if there is anything that the British government deems illegal, like terrorist content, pornography, or perhaps one day fake news — these big companies could be fined.”

Last week, it was reported that people in the United Kingdom could face up to fifteen years in prison for repeatedly viewing “far-right propaganda” online, which was compared to “terrorist material,” while both Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Prime Minister Theresa May have frequently expressed interest in cracking down on the Internet and implementing censorship.

After Rudd was recently asked by an individual why she wants to stop encryption when it was proven that she didn’t understand how it works, the Home Secretary replied, “It’s so easy to be patronised in this business.”

“We will do our best to understand it. We will take advice from other people. But I do feel that there is a sea of criticism for any of us who try and legislate in new areas, who will automatically be sneered at and laughed at for not getting it right,” she expressed. “I don’t need to understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping the criminals. I will engage with the security services to find the best way to combat that.”

This week, it was revealed that leading tech companies were “scrambling” to stop regulation in the United States.

According to Bloomberg, “Google summoned about 200 policy staff from around the world last month for a debate on whether the company’s size has made it too attractive as a target for government regulators,” while “Twitter executives have been in frequent contact with Congressional committees,” and “Facebook has hired two crisis PR firms.”

Facebook also spent over $3.2 million on lobbying, a “company record,” while Google has spent nearly $6 million.

As previously reported, “The action comes after an increase in calls for the regulation of technology companies from both Democrats and Republicans, who argue Silicon Valley has become too powerful and monopolistic.”

Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon called for regulation of social media companies earlier this year.

Last week, it was reported that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election could reveal corporate secrets, while in September, it was reported that FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller was “now in possession of Russian-linked ads run on Facebook during the presidential election,” which he obtained via a search warrant.

After allegations of Russian adverts surfaced, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg encouraged further investigation into large technology companies, expressing “regret” at previously thinking Facebook had nothing to do with “the outcome of the election.”

“This is too important an issue to be dismissive,” he concluded.

Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @MrNashington and Gab @Nash, or like his page at Facebook.


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