UK could speed up criminal sanctions for big tech, minister says

Weekly cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, October 27, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

November 4, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain could speed up a move to make the executives of big techs firm criminally liable for harmful content on their platforms if they do not take action to tackle the problem, Digital Minister Nadine Dorries told lawmakers on Thursday.

Britain is bringing forward a bill that could see companies such as Facebook fined up to 10% of turnover if they failed to remove or limit the spread of illegal content.

Powers to make executives liable have been proposed as a “last resort” to be introduced at least two years after the rules have been set, the government has said.

But Dorries, who was appointed to the job in September, said she wanted the powers brought forward.

“It will not be two years, we are looking at truncating that to a shorter time frame,” she told lawmakers. “I’m looking at three to six months for criminal liability.”

She said big tech firms already had the capability to make their platforms safer.

“Why would we give them two years to change what they can change today?,” she said.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Michael Holden)