May is planning to introduce huge regulations on the way the internet
works, allowing the government to decide what is said online.
focus has been drawn to the end of the manifesto, which makes clear
that the Tories want to introduce huge changes to the way the
people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to
technology and the internet," it states. "We disagree."
Tories confirmed to BuzzFeed
the phrasing indicates that the government intends to introduce huge
restrictions on what people can post, share and publish online.
plans will allow Britain to become "the global leader in the
regulation of the use of personal data and the internet", the
comes just soon after
the Investigatory Powers Act came into law.
That legislation allowedthe government to force internet companies to keep records on their
customers' browsing histories, as well as giving ministers the power
to break apps like WhatsApp so that messages can be read.
manifesto makes reference to those increased powers, saying that the
government will work even harder to ensure there is no "safe
space for terrorists to be able to communicate online". That is
apparently a reference in part to its work to encourage technology
companies to build backdoors into their encrypted messaging services
– which gives the government the ability to read terrorists'
messages, but also weakens the security of everyone else's messages,
technology companies have warned.
government now appears to be launching a similarly radical change in
the way that social networks and internet companies work. While much
of the internet is currently controlled by private businesses like
Google and Facebook, Theresa May intends to allow government to
decide what is and isn't published, the manifesto suggests.
new rules would include laws that make it harder than ever to access
pornographic and other websites. The government will be able to place
restrictions on seeing adult content and any exceptions would have to
be justified to ministers, the manifesto suggests.
manifesto even suggests that the government might stop search engines
like Google from directing people to pornographic websites. "We
will put a responsibility on industry not to direct users – even
unintentionally – to hate speech, pornography, or other sources of
harm," the Conservatives write.
laws would also force technology companies to delete anything that a
person posted when they were under 18.
perhaps most unusually they would be forced to help controversial
government schemes like its Prevent strategy, by promoting
harnessing the digital revolution, we must take steps to protect the
vulnerable and give people confidence to use the internet without
fear of abuse, criminality or exposure to horrific content", the
manifesto claims in a section called 'the safest place to be online'.
plans are in keeping with the Tories' commitment that the online
world must be regulated as strongly as the offline one, and that the
same rules should apply in both.
starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern
our lives offline," the Conservatives' manifesto says,
explaining this justification for a new level of regulation.
should be as unacceptable to bully online as it is in the playground,
as difficult to groom a young child on the internet as it is in a
community, as hard for children to access violent and degrading
pornography online as it is in the high street, and as difficult to
commit a crime digitally as it is physically.
manifesto also proposes that internet companies will have to pay a
levy, like the one currently paid by gambling firms. Just like with
gambling, that money will be used to pay for advertising schemes to
tell people about the dangers of the internet, in particular being
used to "support awareness and preventative activity to counter
internet harms", according to the manifesto.
Conservatives will also seek to regulate the kind of news that is
posted online and how companies are paid for it. If elected, Theresa
May will "take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity
of information that is essential to our democracy" – and crack
down on Facebook and Google to ensure that news companies get enough
internet companies refuse to comply with the rulings – a suggestion
that some have already made about the powers in the Investigatory
Powers Act – then there will be a strict and strong set of ways to
will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving
regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail
in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it
clearly breaches UK law," the manifesto reads.
laying out its plan for increased regulation, the Tories anticipate
and reject potential criticism that such rules could put people at
we cannot create this framework alone, it is for government, not
private companies, to protect the security of people and ensure the
fairness of the rules by which people and businesses abide," the
document reads. "Nor do we agree that the risks of such an
approach outweigh the potential benefits."