Sajid Javid to warn social media firms they must halt terror content ‘or face UK ban’

Posted On: 
7th April 2019

Social media firms are to be warned that they face being banned from Britain unless they can crackdown on terrorist content and combat child sex abuse online under new duty of care laws.

Sajid Javid will unveil new measures on tackling online criminality through a new white paper
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Sajid Javid will outline a fresh round of potential sanctions in the Government’s White Paper on Monday, reportedly including removing firms from search engines or allowing named directors to be prosecuted or fined.

The “last resort” plans, would give a new regulator the power to order Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block websites or apps from the UK.

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The fines, which would be set at a proportion of companies’ turnover, will target cases where illegal material has gone up, and also when it has not been taken down promptly.

Under the new codes of practice, the regulator will decide the timeframe for taking down content such as in the case of the New Zealand Mosque massacre and ensure that they identify those responsible for and act on cases of child grooming.

Mr Javid told the Sunday Telegraph: “Illegal terrorist content and child sexual exploitation and abuse has absolutely no place in society - let alone the internet - and it shocks me that it is still too readily available online.

“Put simply, the tech companies have not done enough to protect their users and stop this shocking content from appearing in the first place.

“Our new proposals will protect UK citizens and ensure tech firms will no longer be able to ignore their responsibilities.”

Tory MP John Whittingdale however has warned ministers that they risk dragging internet users into a “draconian censorship regime”.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the former Culture Secretary said: “With their ‘duty of care’, well-meaning ministers want the same laws to apply online as offline – but they risk dragging British citizens into a draconian censorship regime instead.”

Acknowledging that it was “right” to crack down on the internet being used by paedophiles and organised criminals he added: “However, countries such as China, Russia and North Korea, which allow no political dissent and deny their people freedom of speech, are also keen to impose censorship online, just as they already do on traditional media.

“This mooted new UK regulator must not give the despots an excuse to claim that they are simply following an example set by Britain, where civil liberties were first entrenched in Magna Carta 800 years ago.”