SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files.
(Photo: REUTERS/File Photo)

The United Kingdom government announced on Wednesday that it considers authorizing its broadcast agency to monitor the internet and protect users from harmful and illegal content.

British authorities took things a notch higher in its broad policymaking efforts to curb the worst excesses online by keeping a close eye on a wide range of harms, especially on social media.

As a result, the government has appointed the Office of Communications, the region's media and broadcast monitoring group, to enforce the rules around "hateful speech" on popular sites like Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat.

The announcement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport comes after it released its initial response to an evaluation regarding a report on Internet harms, which was published last April.

British Media Minister Nicky Morgan told the UK parliament that she was "minded" to give the Ofcom the powers to oversee user-generated content on the Internet.

But Morgan pointed out that the expanded monitoring body -- dubbed the "first internet watchdog" -- by British news companies, is not fully capacitated to block or delete harmful posts or platforms that infringe on their "responsibility to care".

The previous Conservative-led administration presented populist but controversial propositions to impose a duty of care on social media platforms in response to growing public worries over the kind of content that children are exposed to online.

The document covers a wide array of online content - from hate speech, violence and terrorism, to child exploitation, suicide, and online bullying -- with authorities laying down measures to mandate platforms to initiate "reasonable" steps to safeguard their users from such harms.

Among the world's largest tech companies had communicated with the UK authorities in March 2019 and called for a strong understanding of the distinction between illegal and harmful content.

The reaction comes after years of heightened scrutiny. The regulators demanded that social networks and internet service providers take down humiliating, abusive or bullying content.

Those ideas were presented in a series of plans released by former Prime Minister Theresa May's government last April. Prime Minister Boris Johnson took over in July and first concentrated on handling the Brexit crisis.

But Britain left the European Union last month and his administration is now getting ready to imprint its own objectives for the nation.

Meanwhile, officials stressed that they have not yet decided on what kind of accountability top management of covered businesses may be liable to under the planned monitoring policy, nor on additional disruption measures -- with authorities saying it will set out its final policy stance in the Spring.