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UK proposes granting Ofcom powers to regulate social media content

The British government has proposed giving media regulator Ofcom interim powers to fine social media companies such as Facebook Inc. over content deemed harmful, The Independent reported.

The new powers would allow Ofcom to impose penalties against online platforms for failing to protect users from seeing videos depicting violence or child abuse. The fines could be worth £250,000, or up to 5% of a company's revenues.

Ofcom could also reportedly suspend or restrict the tech companies' services in the U.K. if they fail to comply with the requirements.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the move would allow Britain to meet its obligations to the European Union on online safety by September 2020 under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

The government earlier published the Online Harms White Paper, which proposes greater accountability for content-hosting platforms in relation to "harm caused by content or activity" on their services. Lawyers said the proposals are in line with a Europe-wide movement away from self-regulation.