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Introduce a sanctions system to ensure compliance from digital companies.

Last updated: 11:00am 18 January 2019

We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.82

Our verdict

This follows from a previous promise in the manifesto to “establish a regulatory framework in law to underpin our digital charter”. Our verdict for that one is currently ‘in progress’ because although there is some movement (a consultation has taken place and there is a planned white paper), it’s a pledge to legislate and no legislation has yet been passed.

This policy is a promise to introduce sanctions to ensure digital companies comply with the regulatory framework once it has been established.

There are already restrictions on the behaviour of companies online. For example, the Data Protection Act 2018 provides a level of security for personal data; consumer rights are protected by various pieces of legislation (see links below); and work is ongoing to protect citizens from terrorist propaganda.

Although significant, these elements are not coherent enough to be called “a regulatory framework in law”. Without the framework, this policy pledge of a sanctions regime cannot be fulfilled. In fact, with no framework in place, this one is ‘not started’. We’ll be watching for the promised white paper and looking for legislation that sets up a regulatory framework to keep digital companies, social media platforms and content providers in line. Movement on that front would mean this sanctions policy might change to ‘in progress’. Follow this policy to keep up with developments.

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