British lawmakers may hold tech platforms liable if users send unsolicited dick pics over their services, Insider reports.
A committee on Tuesday recommended new language for the country’s upcoming Online Safety Bill, aimed at stepping up regulation of big tech and social media companies.
The committee recommended that the government make “cyber flashing” a sexual offense, noting that unwanted sexual images overwhelmingly affect women and girls on the web.
The recommendation suggests that tech platforms be held liable for cyber flashing on their services.
The platforms would "have the duty to mitigate and effectively manage the risk of harm to individuals from cyber flashing and remove unsolicited nude images from their platform quickly."
Crackdown on “cyber flashing”:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in November that it should be “illegal.”
UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries also said last month that the bill would include measures against cyber flashing.
"It is the case that those online platforms can change their behaviors now. They can comply with their own terms and conditions now. They can remove harmful algorithms right now,” she said. "They don't need to wait for this bill to come to the floor of the House [of Commons] to change the way they behave."
But it is currently unclear how quickly lawmakers may require tech platforms to take action or what kind of sanctions they could face.
Online safety bill grows:
The Online Safety Bill has continued to grow before it is put up to a vote.
Damian Collins, chairman of the joint committee that issued the recommendations, said that “for too long, big tech has gotten away with being the land of the lawless.... the era of self-regulation for big tech has come to an end."
The bill would require social networks to remove content that is harmful or illegal and protect children.
The bill would require websites to ensure that children cannot access porn, crack down on scams and fake advertisements, address “the potential harmful impact of algorithms,” promoting violence based on gender or disability, harmful misinformation, self-harm, and more.
The Adam Smith Institute, a neoliberal think tank, raised concerns about the “gigantic threats” posed by the bill to “freedom of speech, privacy and innovation.”
"It would still mean speech being less free online compared to offline,” the organization warned.