back to article We take a look at proposed Big Tech regulations in the UK: Heavy on possible fines, light on enforcement

Tech giants face massive fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual revenue if they fail to follow new rules aimed at reducing the amount of harmful content on their platforms, the UK government has decided. The Online Harms white paper, published Tuesday, outlines up the government’s approach following more than 18 months of …

  1. Ordinary Donkey

    "Tech giants"

    I haven't been able to see any clear definition of what this regulation considers to be a 'tech giant'. Is there such a definition?

    The cynic in me expects them to define it so vaguely that they can silence small companies by declaring them to be tech giants and fining them a thousand times their revenue.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: "Tech giants"

      @Ordinary Donkey

      "The cynic in me expects them to define it so vaguely that they can silence small companies"

      Dont worry, if they havnt defined it broad enough they will do so at a later date

  2. Fred Dibnah

    Heavy on possible fines, light on enforcement

    That's neoliberal 'regulation' for you. The possible fines appease the public, whilst the light enforcement avoids upsetting the corporations and lets them carry on behaving just as they like.

    See also: water, gas, electricity, phone, & train companies.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Heavy on possible fines, light on enforcement

      Looks as though Matt Hancock's private meeting in Paris a couple of years back, with Zuck has paid dividends, for Zuck.

      Hancock was digi-minister then and Zuck threatened him with dropping all investment in the UK, then six months later this enquiry takes off with these relatively light results.

      What I don't see in the article is where the teeth are for the enforcement of a 10% of revenue fine on a company like FB, who are well kown for sticking lawyers and endless appeals onto anything they dislike.

      It's all very well to say " You owe us ten percent of your revenue but what is the UK government going to do, send bailiffs tothe States to bang o Zuck's door?

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. PerlyKing Silver badge
    WTF?

    Maximum fine £18 million

    How is this supposed to deter Google, Facebook et al. from carrying on as normal?

    1. fitzpat

      Re: Maximum fine £18 million

      10% of Facebook's $70B revenue is $7B. Google would be hit by $16B .

      Not that it will ever happen.

    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Maximum fine £18 million

      The minimum fine is £18 million.

      1. PerlyKing Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: minimum fine £18 million

        Oops, reading comprehension fail X-(

        In that case, full speed ahead!

      2. I am the liquor Silver badge

        Re: Maximum fine £18 million

        To be pedantic, the minimum maximum fine is £18m.

  5. Howard Sway

    Online Harms and duty of care

    I wonder if the Conservative party in government proposing this is the same Conservative party that is also urging its members to campaign by "weaponising fake news".

    The bulletin sent out to members in Northamptonshire says “there are lessons that we can learn from Trump”, adding: “A lie can go round the world before the truth can get its boots on.”

    “If you make enough dubious claims, fast enough, honest speakers are overwhelmed. If someone tweets ten dubious claims per day and it takes you a week to disprove each one, then you are doomed,” it says.

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble?

      Re: Online Harms and duty of care

      “A lie can go round the world before the truth can get its boots on.”

      I thought I could feel a subtle shift in the Earths rotation. It must be Sir PTerry spinning in his grave.

      Still waiting on the Pratchett icon El Reg, just sayin'

      1. Ordinary Donkey

        Re: Online Harms and duty of care

        What would such an icon look like? My feeling would be probably the steamroller from his last request.

        As for the Tories, they're already weaponising fake news. partial list here.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In case you missed it

    I don't see why the Conservatives feel the need to spread lies. They are doing such a good job at the moment, why not stick to the truth. They could, for example, highlight the passing of the Parliamentary Constituencies Act on December 14th, which will be a complete revamp of constituency boundaries to equalise the number of voters within constituencies and make sure everyone's vote has equal weight.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-law-passed-will-make-voting-in-uk-general-election-fairer

    Overseas readers may be surprised to learn that there is currently a wide range in the number of voters per constituency in the UK. It is often said that this arrangement (set to be altered by the new Act) benefits Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland at the expense of England, and the Labour Party at the expense of the Conservatives.

    Rumours that a Mr. Gerry Mander will oversee the process appear to be false. So shouldn't be repeated around the world.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: In case you missed it

      "Rumours that a Mr. Gerry Mander"

      Unless those rumours suggest that Gerry Mander works for the Boundary Commission (whose head is a serving judge and has no political members on it) you might be thinking of the United States, where boundaries are drawn by the ruling party.

      1. Adelio Silver badge

        Re: In case you missed it

        There are a few states that have now changed to a bipartisan comitte to do the boundries, usually as a extra question on the ballot paper.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: In case you missed it

          This is true. And some were so ridiculous that it was declared unconstitutional (if I remember correctly, I think the lawsuit was successful).

          But the UK has a non-partisan, rather than a bipartisan, committee to do it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tyranny and Oppression

    If encryption backdoors come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting paedoterrorists enemies.

    after James Madison.

  8. alain williams Silver badge

    Need to stop corporate lying

    We need something similar that deals with blatant lies and misdirections that many companies come out with. In theory the ASA should deal with this but they seem pretty ineffective.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Need to stop corporate lying

      Seeing as this is (mostly) aimed at the US FAANG class type of companies, and considering that corporate barrel-scraping, duplicity and lying is part of the BAU process of "doing business the American way", like you, I'm just wondering what teeth the ASA might have if even the threat of GDPR hasn't changed their ways?

      The answer of course is none, due to highly paid lawyers and political lobbyists.

    2. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

      Re: Need to stop corporate lying

      > In theory the ASA should deal with this but they ARE COMPLETELY UNWILLING.

      FTFY (Caps used to make it easier for people to see what changed)

  9. Adelio Silver badge

    My Data

    As far as I am concerned (and I am a bit of a luddite here) NO company has any right to ANY of my Data for any purpose (except that that is required when i purchase something) And that data should only be used for that sole purpose. NOT for analysis of my buying trends.

    I would rather not have access to those services that suffer.

    I have a F.B account but do not use it. I have a twitter account that i used once 8 years ago. I have an active whatsapp, use it about once a week. Mainly contacting my sons.

    Like many people it really annoys me when after a purchase of (whatever) I get a barrage of messages asking me if I want to purchase some more of the same!

    1. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

      Re: My Data

      NO company has any right to ANY of my Data for any purpose...

      But in the terms of service that you agree to when purchasing something from them, or signing up to their accounts you enter into a contract giving them that right. You're then listing where you have legally given those tech companies that right.

      Have you at any time closed those accounts? Did you ever send the various companies GDPR notices stating that you withdrew your consent ?

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: My Data

      @Adelio

      "As far as I am concerned (and I am a bit of a luddite here) NO company has any right to ANY of my Data for any purpose (except that that is required when i purchase something) And that data should only be used for that sole purpose. NOT for analysis of my buying trends"

      That does unfortunately take you right back to trade at a market. If you can tolerate your aggregated purchases being analysed along with others you could do supermarket but without the use of loyalty cards.

      And whatever you do dont use credit/debit cards nor bank transfers.

      "Like many people it really annoys me when after a purchase of (whatever) I get a barrage of messages asking me if I want to purchase some more of the same!"

      That is the joy of crap advertisement methods. There is work being done to try and improve matching suppliers to people who would want the item but people are increasingly against Amazon, FB, Google, etc.

  10. Scott Broukell

    Online Hams Bill

    I mis read that and was trying to work out why on earth those who prefer to shop on t'web for porcine base food items should require such special legislative attention!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like government regulators want to control what we can watch or say, which isn't freedom. The censorship on big social media platforms is already overbearing and has forced many to seek alternative platforms. If the government criminalise only that which really causes harm to people (which itself needs a clear definition) they wouldn't have to actively regulate anything. Leave platforms free to attract their own audiences.

  12. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Harmful content

    I assume its safe to say that the all powerful media won’t be getting included into this bucket of producers of harmful online content?

    I can think of quite a number of harmful tabloids who promote harmful bullshit every fucking day.

    I assume also that those who have the most leverage, lobbyists, donators, best buddies, etc, will be exempt?

    Wow, Governing is easy.... just act gotta act like a Cunting-Monkey

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