Ofcom appoints online safety head to take on big tech

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Regulator Ofcom has announced Anna-Sophie Harling will be its online safety head, dealing with how the tech giants regulate harmful speech.

She will be in charge of implementing the Online Safety Bill, due to come into effect later this year if approved by Parliament.

Ofcom will be able to fine tech firms that fail to remove offending content up to 10% of their global revenue.

But one expert said this would require “bold leadership”.

‘Really excited’

Ms Harling is currently managing director for Europe at NewsGuard, which audits online publishers for accuracy.

“I’m really excited to be joining Ofcom’s online-safety team,” she said.

“Legislation will enable us to introduce meaningful transparency where it has been lacking and empower Ofcom to hold platforms to account.

“I can’t wait to get started.”

‘Running rampant’

Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) chief executive Imran Ahmed said Ofcom’s expanding role would “require bold leadership, with a holistic vision of both the clear benefits and the undeniable harms of those platforms”.

And Ms Harling should seek advice from the public as a first step in her new job.

“In my experience, people don’t want racial hatred or dangerous anti-vax propaganda running rampant on social-media platforms,” he said.

“Our polling shows people want far more assertive enforcement of their right to good information than is currently available under the law.”

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