The UK government is considering “all options”, including a regulator, as part of new legislation governing the internet.
It has previously said it will publish a White Paper in the coming months, laying out its proposals.
According to Buzzfeed News, the White Paper will propose a regulatory body similar to Ofcom, which regulates broadcasters and telecoms companies.
The government told the BBC it would publish the White Paper this winter.
But a spokesman for the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it had nothing to share at this time.
A cross-party committee investigating misinformation and fake news has already suggested areas for new legislation ahead of the White Paper.
In July, it recommended:
- reforming electoral law for the digital age – including clear rules about political advertising online
- taxing social networks to pay for digital literacy programmes in schools
- greater transparency around online advertising
However, Buzzfeed News said the government’s proposals would go further. It said it had seen details of the White Paper, which included:
- forcing websites to remove illegal hate speech within a specific time period or face penalties. A similar law is in force in Germany
- making social networks verify the age of their users
- punishing social networks that failed to remove terror content or child abuse images
- restricting advertisements online for food and soft drink products that were high in salt, fat or sugar
A spokesman for the DCMS said the report was speculation.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, it said: “We are considering all options, including what legislation will be necessary and whether a regulator is needed.”