UK says to strengthen internet laws to fight Russian disinformation


FILE PHOTO: British Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries arrives at Downing Street, in London, Britain June 21, 2022. REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is proposing a new law that will require social media companies to proactively tackle disinformation posted by foreign states such as Russia, the government said on Monday.

The law would tackle fake accounts on platforms such as Meta's Facebook and Twitter that were set up on behalf of foreign states to influence elections or court proceedings, the government said.

The law is likely to be passed during this parliamentary session through an amendment to link the National Security Bill and Online Safety Bill, both of which are in the government's current programme.

Communications regulator Ofcom will draw up codes of practice to help social media companies comply with the law, and will have the power to issue fines for infringement.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said on Monday the invasion of Ukraine has shown how Russia uses social media to spread lies about its actions.

"We cannot allow foreign states or their puppets to use the internet to conduct hostile online warfare unimpeded," she said. "That's why we are strengthening our new internet safety protections to make sure social media firms identify and root out state-backed disinformation."

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Josie Kao)

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