Internet safety laws strengthened to fight Russian and hostile state disinformation

  • Social media platforms will have to proactively look for and remove disinformation from foreign state actors which harms the UK
  • Firms failing to tackle online interference by rogue states face huge fines or being blocked

Social media platforms will have to proactively tackle Russian and other state-sponsored disinformation aimed at undermining the UK under changes ministers are making to new internet safety laws.

Many people are concerned about the threat that malicious state-linked disinformation poses to UK society and democracy, particularly following Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

The government will table an amendment to link the National Security Bill with the Online Safety Bill – strengthening this landmark and pioneering internet legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to go online. A new Foreign Interference Offence created by the National Security Bill will be added to the list of priority offences in the Online Safety Bill.

It means social media platforms, search engines and other apps and websites allowing people to post their own content will have a legal duty to take proactive, preventative action to identify and minimise people’s exposure to state-sponsored or state-linked disinformation aimed at interfering with the UK.

This includes tackling material from fake accounts set up by individuals or groups acting on behalf of foreign states to influence democratic or legal processes, such as elections and court proceedings, or spread hacked information to undermine democratic institutions.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said:

The invasion of Ukraine has yet again shown how readily Russia can and will weaponise social media to spread disinformation and lies about its barbaric actions, often targeting the very victims of its aggression. We cannot allow foreign states or their puppets to use the internet to conduct hostile online warfare unimpeded.

That’s why we are strengthening our new internet safety protections to make sure social media firms identify and root out state-backed disinformation.

Security Minister Damian Hinds said:

Online information operations are now a core part of state threats activity. The aim can…