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The New York Times reports that the UK plans to adopt policies that would allow the government to regulate internet content to a greater degree, "as part of an effort to force Facebook, YouTube and other internet giants to do more to police their platforms."

Under the plan, details of which are expected to emerge in coming months, "the country’s media regulator, known as Ofcom, would take on new responsibilities monitoring internet content, and would have the power to issue penalties against companies that did not do enough to combat 'harmful and illegal terrorist and child abuse content'."

The Times writes that "the push for tougher regulation shows a divergence from the American-led vision of the internet that is largely market driven and free of government oversight. In Europe, where free speech is more regulated than in the United States, there has been a growing willingness to impose new rules on the web, particularly related to hate speech, terrorism and material targeting children … Free-speech and human-rights advocates warned the policies would lead to censorship and be used as a template by more repressive governments."

KC's View:

I am conflicted on this.  I do think that so-called 'internet giants' need to be incentivized to exercise more oversight of what appears on their sites;  these have become media companies, not just platforms, and with the great power that they have comes great responsibility.  More transparency about who or what is posting stuff ought to be a bare minimum.

But, I also worry about what would happen if autocratic regimes are able to control the internet.  Joseph Stalin once said that "Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns. Why should we let them have ideas?"  And an internet where there is a free exchange of ideas is a nightmare to autocrats.

Like I said, I am conflicted.