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Foreign Policy Foreign Policy

Lead a global effort to close down online spaces for those who propagate hate speech

Last updated: 08:21pm 11 December 2019

We will lead a global effort to close down online spaces for those who abuse children, incite violence or propagate hate speech.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.38

Our verdict

In May 2019, an Ofcom survey found that 75% of adults are ‘very concerned’ about hate speech online in relation to children. With 99% of people in the UK aged 16-44 being recent internet users, and 45% of adults who use the internet indicating that they have experienced some form of online harm, keeping citizens safe online is of growing importance to governments around the world. This policy promises to lead a global effort to counter hate speech online.

In April 2019, the government published the Online Harms White Paper, setting out ideas to tackle illegal and unacceptable content and activity online, and began a round of consultations on an appropriate framework. The paper was critical of existing regulatory and voluntary initiatives, saying they “have not gone far or fast enough, or been consistent enough between different companies”. The government aims to be the first in the world to establish a comprehensive framework to encourage online companies to take steps towards ensuring the safety of their users under an independent regulator.

“…leading international efforts by setting a coherent, proportionate and effective approach…”

The White Paper consultation ran from April to July 2019 and responses are being analysed.

The Online Harms White Paper is a significant statement of intent when it comes to tackling hate speech online, but further action was not taken during the government’s time in office. So, this policy remains ‘in progress’.

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