Online life should be more like offline, according to its manifesto.
If re-elected, the current UK government wants to stamp its authority on the internet, according to the newly-released Conservative Party manifesto.
The final section of the manifesto, ‘Prosperity and security in a digital age’, runs through various changes to the UK’s digital economy and online life which would see Theresa May’s party attempt to make virtual activity and space more like the real world, with tighter government regulations and control.
“Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet,” the Conservatives write on page 82 of the manifesto. “We disagree.”
The pledges within promise a more heavily regulated internet, in order to make Britain “the safest place in the world to be online”.
“It 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,” reads the manifesto.
In order to achieve this, the Conservatives want to restrict what content can be shared on social media or listed in searches.
“We will put a responsibility on industry not to direct users – even unintentionally – to hate speech, pornography, or other sources of harm,” the manifesto states.
This could mean that search engine operators are blocked from listing porn sites, among others, in their results.
But it also means that social media and internet companies may be held responsible for the content they publish or direct users toward. The manifesto suggests that “a sanctions regime” could be implemented should online firms not take down objectionable or illegal content.
Conservative advisers have said to Buzzfeed that the party is keen to reign in internet giants like Google and Facebook.
Other plans in the manifesto include levying money on these online companies in order to pay for schemes that raise awareness of the internet’s potential harms – similar to what is currently required of gambling firms in the UK.
The UK general election will take place on June 8. Voter registration closes on May 22 and all the party manifestos are all available to read online, so be sure to inform yourself before you head to the polls.