(Bloomberg) -- The UK will compel technology companies to find ways to identify and remove child abuse images from their platforms in an amendment to the Online Safety Bill.
The amendment puts the onus on companies to source or develop methods to comply with regulator Ofcom’s orders or face fines of as much as £18 million ($21.5 million), or 10% of their global annual sales, whichever is higher, the Home Office said. An earlier version of the bill would have only allowed Ofcom to require companies to use existing technology to identify exploitation images.
Tech companies have pushed back on the proposed legislation, with Meta complaining that it risks giving governments power to snoop on and censor private messages. The UK Home Office has rejected technology companies’ arguments that tools developed to identify child sexual abuse could damage the security of end-to-end encryption.
“Privacy and security are not mutually exclusive,” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said, “We need both, and we can have both and that is what this amendment delivers.”
Read More: Meta Says UK Bill Risks Messages Being Surveilled, Censored
The European Union is considering similar legislation, that would demand tech companies scan, detect and report abusive images to law enforcement. Last year, Apple Inc. announced, then halted, plans to detect child abuse imagery in its users’ photo libraries after widespread concern voiced by privacy advocates.
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