Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened to wield the big stick against social media companies that refuse to tackle the propagation of extremist ideas through their platforms.
According to the prime minister, the new legislation will soon be introduced in the Commons to draw up penalties against social media companies implicitly promoting “foul content” via their platforms.
The Online Harms Bill is aimed at forcing top-tier tech firms like Facebook and Google to abide by a duty of care to users, overseen by Ofcom as the new regulator for the sector.
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Sir Keir Starmer, Labor party leader has pledged to work with the government to pass the bill after MP Sir David Amess was brutally murdered last week by a suspected Muslim extremist.
Sir David’s murder has accelerated the government’s drive to tackle the issue of online radicalization, which is believed to have played a contributing role in recent killings.
PM Johnson was prodded by the Labor party leader to use the “inescapable desire” of MPs to “clamp down on the extremism, the hate and the abuse that festers online.”
The government plans to design a system where directors of social media firms who fail to address online extremism on their platforms would be made to face criminal sanctions.
Mr Johnson told the House: “I’ve already said that we are willing to look at anything to strengthen the legislation, I’ve said that we will bring it forward to second reading before Christmas.”
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“And, yes, of course we will have criminal sanctions with tough sentences for those who are responsible for allowing this foul content to permeate the internet.”
“What we hope for also, is that no matter how tough the proposals we produce, that the opposition will support it.”
Johnson also faces pressure from his own backbenchers to strengthen the law.