Mark Zuckerberg could face jail time under a new law. The Labour Party has called for tougher penalties against senior tech executives.
According to UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Big Tech executives face going to jail if their social media platforms do not remove content deemed harmful under impending online safety legislation, reports Russia Today.
On Saturday, Dorries told Times Radio that Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, Facebook’s parent company, and other tech executives might “absolutely” face jail time if they did not comply with the government’s new Online Safety Bill. She expressed her optimism that the bill will be a, “notice to the online platforms to say here it is, we’re letting you know what it is now, so start doing what you need to do.”
According to The Telegraph, under the bill’s proposed ‘duty of care’ framework, communications regulator Ofcom could jail tech leaders for up to two years for failing to delete illegal information. On Friday, the government said that the bill had been amended to include additional criminal charges such as revenge porn, hate crimes, fraud, the selling of illegal narcotics or weapons, the encouragement or assistance of suicide, people smuggling, and sexual exploitation.
The government stated that by labelling these infractions, Ofcom would be able to take swifter action against non-compliant businesses. However, according to Dorries, these platforms “do not need to wait for the bill” because they “have the power to [take action] now.”
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Critics such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) have called her claims “rhetoric.”
The NSPCC’s head of child safety online policy, Andy Burrows, told The Independent that “tech bosses wouldn’t be personally liable for the harmful effects of their algorithms or failing to prevent grooming, and could only be prosecuted for failing to supply information to the regulator.”
Meanwhile, the Labour Party has called for tougher penalties against senior tech executives, with shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell claiming that Ofcom would be in a “David and Goliath situation” when “taking on some of the world’s biggest tech firms” and that it would need “access to the full range of tools in its belt, including making top bosses criminally liable for persistently failing to tackle online harms.”
Dorries’ assertions have elicited no responses from Meta or other tech titans.