"The era of self-regulation for online companies is over", said Jeremy Wright, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, as the proposal was revealed, reported the BBC. "We particularly welcome proposals for a new independent regulator, which should ensure internet bosses make the United Kingdom one of the safest places in the world for children to be online".
Westminster turned its attention to what it described as "online harms" on Monday, releasing its Online Harms White Paper, which outlined the government's plans to create a package of safety measures on the world wide web. Compliance with the new duty is to be overseen by an independent regulator, which the government said industry would fund.
What we do know for sure is that the regulator will be able to hand out fines to any platforms that enable users to share and discover user generated content or interact with each other online, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines.
Companies would be held to account for tackling a "comprehensive" set of online harms, the department said, ranging from illegal activity and content to behaviours which were harmful, but not necessarily illegal.
There will also be requirements for companies to tackle terrorist content and child sexual exploitation and abuse content.
"There is now a range of regulatory and voluntary initiatives aimed at addressing these problems, but these have not gone far or fast enough, or been consistent enough between different companies, to keep United Kingdom users safe online", the government said.
"These new regulations will assist policing in our battle to keep young people and vulnerable adults safe, by allowing us to focus our resources on pursuing offenders in the United Kingdom and preventing the proliferation of material that harms our society", said Mr Bailey.
Giving a regulator the power to force social media platforms and others to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address this.
While the legislation planned will impose new responsibilities on internet companies, the government said the move would comply with the EU's E-Commerce Directive.
"This is a hugely significant commitment by the Government that once enacted, can make the United Kingdom a world pioneer in protecting children online", NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless said in a statement. "We particularly welcome proposals for a new independent regulator, which should ensure internet bosses make the United Kingdom one of the safest places in the world for children to be online".
The White Paper has received a mixed reaction. "This can promote disinformation by ensuring that users do not see rebuttals or other sources that may disagree and can also mean that users perceive a story to be far more widely believed than it really is", said the paper. The internet simply wasn't built with children in mind, so it is vital that government plays a greater role in determining and setting standards for the services that children commonly use, and that industry responds quickly and effectively. "Instead, we must make available as many accessible, simple resources for parents based on expert advice which makes it as easy as possible for them to understand".