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Create an industry-wide levy from social media companies and communication service providers

Last updated: 11:34am 17 January 2019

We will also create a power in law for government to introduce an industry-wide levy from social media companies and communication service providers to support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms, just as is already the case with the gambling industry.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.82

Our verdict

Bullying, abuse, a lack of accountability and the increasing use of the internet have all fed into a widely perceived need to regulate the internet in some way to ensure the safety of its users. To this end, in October 2017 the government published its policy intentions on internet safety in its Internet Safety Strategy green paper. In the paper, the government announced its intention to establish a levy for social media companies in order to raise funds that can be directed towards combating online issues.

Following the green paper, a public consultation was launched in October 2017. The government’s response was published in May 2018, and the policy took a hit as only 15% of respondents to the consultation agreed that the proposed levy would be effective.

The published response maintained the government’s commitment to implementing a levy, detailing plans “to hold further discussions…with our key stakeholders to agree an effective approach” and announcing a planned white paper which will set out legislation to be brought forward to improve online safety. The white paper (which was promised for 2018 but did not appear in that year) is key, as this policy is a promise to create a power “in law”, so legislation or at least amendments to existing law will be required.

With the levy not established, and white paper still in the pipeline, this policy remains a work ‘in progress’. We’ll move it to ‘done’ once there is a “new power in law”.  Follow this policy for developments.

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