Published: 17 March 2022
Location: London, UK
The Government has published proposals for new internet safety laws. The Online Safety Bill, which has been in progress for around five years, establishes Ofcom as the new regulator for the sector, and equips the watchdog with the power to fine companies or block access to sites that fail to comply with the new rules. Measures in the Bill include:
- Requiring tech firms and social media platforms to prevent users from being exposed to harmful content
- A new requirement to report child sexual abuse to the National Crime Agency
- An exemption for news content to help protect free speech
- Making internet platforms responsible for ensuring paid-for scam adverts do not appear
- Requiring sites that host pornography to ensure their users are 18 or over
- The criminalisation of cyberflashing, taking part in digital “pile-ons” and sending threatening social media posts.
- Social media users to be given the right to appeal if they feel posts have been taken down unfairly
- Powers to hold company executives criminally liable if they fail to comply with Ofcom information requests from early next year, with jail terms of up to two years
- Making company managers criminally liable if they destroy evidence, fail to attend interviews with or otherwise obstruct Ofcom, or provide false information
The revised Bill still contains reference to “legal but harmful” content, saying social media platforms must carry out risk assessments on the types of harms that could appear on their service and how they plan to address it. Meanwhile, agreed categories of legal but harmful content will be set out in secondary legislation approved by Parliament; the Government says it will not leave harmful content debates in the hands of social media executives or cause them to over-remove content over fears of being sanctioned. Damian Collins, chair of the Joint Committee on the draft Online Safety Bill, said: “The UK is leading the world with legislation to finally hold social media companies for the offences that take place on their platforms, like hate speech, fraud, terrorism, and child abuse”. However, Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said the fact the term ‘legal but harmful’ remained in the Bill amounted to the creation of a “censor’s charter” that would “ban Brits from doing normal things like making jokes, seeking help and engaging in healthy debate online”.
The Treasury will get £12.5 billion more in revenues from freezing income tax thresholds than originally thought, analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. suggests. Chancellor Rishi Sunak originally expected to pull in £8 billion from the move, but soaring inflation is expected to push that up to almost £23 billion, which is likely to increase pressure on Sunak to delay or scrap entirely next month’s increase in National Insurance.
Rail minister Wendy Morton told an industry conference in London yesterday that railway staff must "shift to today’s reality" and scrap outdated weekday-only shift patterns. She said the UK needs a “reliable seven-day railway” to attract more passengers over the weekend and that the current situation where “Sundays are not part of the working week for many staff” was unsustainable. Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA said the change “is just Tory code for cuts” and promised to fight them “extremely hard”. Mick Lynch, head of the RMT union, said the proposals were “sowing the seeds of a national rail dispute”.
Britain has agreed its biggest-ever civil infrastructure export finance deal. UK Export Finance will underwrite a €2.1 billion (£1.76bn) loan to fund 503 kilometres (313 miles) of high-speed electric railway between the Turkish capital Ankara and the port of Izmir in the west of the country. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the deal would help Turkey decarbonise its transport sector and meet commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A census from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published yesterday shows that 94 of FTSE 100 firms have a minority ethnic director representation on their boards. However, despite this progress – five years ago only half had people from non-white communities on their boards - the latest Parker Review Committee (PRC) found that most were non-executive directors. Of the three firms that have not signalled a commitment to diversity, one is Russian steelmaker Evraz, which was mentioned in sanctions against its largest shareholder Roman Abramovich last week and is shortly to be forced out of the index.
British Airways jets in South Africa have been grounded “indefinitely” by the country’s aviation regulator over fears of engine failures and landing gear malfunctions. Comair, which runs British Airways-branded services across southern Africa, has also been suspended from flying since Saturday after the South African Civil Aviation Authority extended a temporary ban to an indefinite one a day later. Comair has a fleet of 26 Boeing jets in the country.
McDonald's claimed £872m in taxpayer-funded Covid support while benefiting from a tax avoidance scheme that will deprive the government of almost £300 million over the next ten years, according to War on Want. McDonald's did not dispute the figures but said it disagreed with the "inaccurate characterisations used to build a misleading narrative".
The Competition and Markets Authority has cleared Sony Music's $430m acquisition of independent record label AWAL.
Deliveroo Plc has reported a narrower than expected loss in its first year as a publicly-listed company, although additional costs still caused adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to the tune of £131 million. The food delivery firm made only an £11 million loss in 2020 but has since piled money into marketing and technology investment. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a loss of £159.4 million pounds. Deliveroo listed on the London Stock Exchange in March last year, since when its shares have fallen around 45%. The firm did however achieve profitability in its key market of the UK and Ireland, where orders increased by 72%, CEO Will Shu said in a statement, adding that the firm hoped to reach breakeven point in around two years’ time.
Cineworld has narrowed its losses as Covid lockdowns have eased globally. The UK-based FTSE 250 cinema chain now says it expects a strong return to trading in March. Pre-tax losses for calendar 2021 came in at $708m (£540m) compared with a loss of $3bn (£2.29bn) a year earlier. Revenue more than doubled to $1.8bn (£1.37bn).
Lloyd's of London has fined a member firm £1,050,000 due to some male managers' heavy drinking, initiation games and sexual remarks about female staff. Atrium Underwriters admitted charges relating to bullying and misconduct during annual 'boys' nights out'. The fine is the largest ever imposed by Lloyd's independent disciplinary committee and its first for non-financial misconduct. Atrium must also pay Lloyd's costs of £562,713. In 2019, Lloyd's vowed to tackle its male dominated culture after almost one in ten workers said they had witnessed sexual harassment.
Lloyds Banking Group is axing 171 jobs and creating six new roles because of three change programmes. Customer service operations will absorb most of the losses within Lloyds Bank corporate markets, as well as its retail and risk divisions.
Swizzels Matlow, the British confectionery firm best known for its Love Hearts, Drumstick and Parma Violets sweets, set to open new 158,000 sq ft production facility in Middlewich, Cheshire.
Nearly 90% of former Debenhams stores remain empty almost a year after the department store closed its doors for the last time, according to a report by the high street analysts Local Data Company. The Debenhams’ stores nearly 8,000 outlets left empty last year.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg was awarded shares in Facebook’s parent company Meta worth almost £10m alongside his recent promotion, according to reports.
The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time since 2018 yesterday and laid out an aggressive plan to clamp down on the economic risks posed by excessive inflation and the war in Ukraine. The central bank's Federal Open Market Committee kicked off the move with a quarter-percentage-point increase from the current zero basis. Reuters says: “Most policymakers now see the federal funds rate rising to a range between 1.75% and 2% by the end of 2022, the equivalent of a quarter-percentage-point rate increase at each of the Fed's six remaining policy meetings this year. They project it will climb to 2.8% next year - above the 2.4% level that officials now feel would work to slow the economy.”
Netflix says it is testing charging a fee to subscribers who share their accounts with people who don't live in their homes.
Starbucks' long-time former CEO Howard Schultz will return temporarily after Kevin Johnson said yesterday that he will retire next month.
Why Media is an award-winning design, marketing, digital communications and PR agency offering tailored solutions to companies on a global scale. We have extensive experience in delivering design and marketing services to a spectrum of companies including professional services, property companies, financial institutions and shopping centres. We have offices in London UK, Hertford UK, Finestrat ES & Brescia IT.