Britain is coming for big tech — here’s how Silicon Valley is responding

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
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Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

  • The UK government has set out ambitious plans to regulate Silicon Valley’s tech giants.
  • Failure to observe these new rules could result in fines of up to billions of dollars, criminal sanctions, and bans.
  • Here’s how companies including Facebook are responding.

The British government has set out ambitious proposals to regulate the internet and bring to heel some of the biggest tech firms in the world.

In a policy paper published on Monday, the government said it would create an independent regulator, tasked with policing harmful content on major platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube.

Read more: Britain just laid out plans to end the internet’s Wild West days and take a world-leading role in regulating big tech

Failure to observe these new rules could result in fines of up to billions of dollars, criminal sanctions, and bans for some of the worst offending websites.

The UK government will now consult on its plans for three months before drawing up legislation. The industry is already having its say. Scroll on to see how big tech is responding to sweeping new internet regulation in Britain.


“The scope of the recommendations is extremely wide,” says big tech lobbying group.

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Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.
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Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The Internet Association, a lobby group which counts Facebook, Google, Snap, Reddit, and Twitter among its members, has already raised its concerns.

UK executive director Daniel Dyball said in a statement: “The internet industry is committed to working together with government and civil society to ensure the UK is a safe place to be online. But to do this, we need proposals that are targeted and practical to implement for platforms both big and small.

“We also need to protect freedom of speech and the services consumers love. The scope of the recommendations is extremely wide, and decisions about how we regulate what is and is not allowed online should be made by parliament.”


Facebook: “These are complex issues to get right.”

Rebecca Stimson, Facebook’s head of UK public policy, said in a statement:

“The internet has transformed how billions of people live, work and connect with each other, but new forms of communication also bring huge challenges. We have responsibilities to keep people safe on our services and we share the government’s commitment to tackling harmful content online.

“As Mark Zuckerberg said last month, new regulations are needed so that we have a standardised approach across platforms and private companies aren’t making so many important decisions alone.

“While we’ve tripled the team working to identify harmful content and protect people to 30,000 and invested heavily in technology to help prevent abuse of our platform, we know there is much more to do. We are continually reviewing our policies with experts and working to ensure our reporting, artificial intelligence and machine learning systems remain industry-leading.

“New rules for the internet should protect society from harm while also supporting innovation, the digital economy and freedom of speech. These are complex issues to get right and we look forward to working with the Government and Parliament to ensure new regulations are effective.”


Twitter: “We are already deeply committed to prioritising the safety of our users.”

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
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Reuters

Katy Minshall, head of public policy for Twitter UK, said:

“To date, Twitter has been an active participant in the discussion between industry and the UK Government on how to keep people safe online.

“We are already deeply committed to prioritising the safety of our users, as evidenced by the introduction of over 70 changes to our policies and processes last year to improve the health and safety of the public conversation online.

“We look forward to engaging in the next steps of the process, and working to strike an appropriate balance between keeping users safe and preserving the open, free nature of the internet.”