Boris Commits UK To Online Regulator

There was one thing that probably leaped out for digital marketing today in the Queen's Speech. It came about halfway through and read: "My Ministers will continue to develop proposals to improve internet safety and will bring forward laws to implement new building safety standards."  

I'm not quite sure why it could tagged on to a proposal to tighten up building standards. Presumably, there was a lot to get through. However, the takeaway is that Boris is to carry on with the work of his predecessor, Theresa May, in toughening up online safety rules. 

There is, of course, a major caveat. Her Majesty might as well as having been reading out the form for today's horse racing -- it would have had as much impact on what will actually transpire in politics.

With a minority government, Boris knows he cannot push through any of his plans, and today was effectively fulfilling the promise of a Queen's Speech a month or so ago -- only this time without being told that he had broken the law. 

The speech will eat up valuable parliamentary debate this week and is unlikely to be approved by the House of Commons. We are then in an area that looks rather grey, but under normal circumstances, there would be a vote of confidence. If lost, the way would be paved for a new election.

However, Boris' opponents do not want to abandon their seats until a no-deal is ruled out as the calendar moves beyond October 31st. So what will actually happen is anyone's guess.

Hence, the first thing to remember about today is that Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, got this one right when complaining about today's pointless spectacle. It is hard to see today's pomp as anything other than Boris getting the Queen to read out a party manifesto.

The chance of his current minority government being in place long enough to push through any of the measures is so tiny that it barely merits consideration. We are heading for a new election, and everybody knows it. The only question is when.

While the country was scratching its collective head wondering what today's ceremony was all about, the digital marketing, social media and online content industries did at least get a steer that what were billed as "the world's first online safety laws" are still being considered.

Back in April, there was a flurry of excitement and activity as the Government called for feedback on its plans to make social media companies more responsible for online content and for a new regulator to be appointed to oversee web content.

With the business of government being understandably dominated by Brexit, it was perhaps inevitable that there had not been much talk about what happened to the proposals and how a three-month consultation period had shaped next steps. It had all appeared to go rather quiet over the summer as thoughts turned to dissolving parliament and then bringing it back again. 

Today, though, we have news that previous work has not come to nothing and that tightening up rules online are still an aim for Boris, as they were Theresa May.

That means if the Conservatives remain in power after the next election, a law will be voted on to give the country an internet regulator and to force the tech giants to take down harmful content within a specific time period, or face a fine.

If there was no real clarity about why everyone had to put on their finest frock coat today, at least the digital industries got a steer.

Regulation is still very much in the current Government's plans, although it will need to end up being the next government if that commitment is to come to anything.

Next story loading loading..