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UK proposes levy on social media, tech firms to improve web safety

The British government is proposing a levy on social media companies and communication service providers to help fund efforts to raise awareness and combat online safety issues.

The proposal is part of the government's Internet Safety Strategy unveiled Oct. 11, which outlines plans to tackle issues like cyberbullying, trolling and online pornography access for children and vulnerable people.

Aside from the levy, other proposals include a new code of practice for using social media to prevent bullying or humiliating online content; the release of an annual transparency report on internet safety, which will present how efforts against abusive content online have progressed; and providing support for tech and digital startups to ensure that internet safety features are embedded in apps and online products.

Furthermore, the government is proposing to transform the existing U.K. Council for Child Internet Safety into the U.K. Council for Internet Safety, emphasizing the need to ensure online safety for all users regardless of age.

Karen Bradley, U.K. secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said there is a need for a collaborative approach to tackle internet safety issues, which will "protect everyone without restricting growth and innovation in the digital economy."

The government has opened a public consultation on its proposals, which will run until Dec. 7. It is expecting to provide its response to the consultation in the early part of 2018.

Britain's internet safety plan comes weeks after Prime Minister Theresa May sat down with French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, and representatives of Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc., Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Twitter Inc. to discuss initiatives to tackle terrorist content.