THE BOSSES of YouTube and Facebook will be prosecuted if they allow “foul” extremist content to stay online, Boris Johnson vowed yesterday.
The PM pledged to “toughen up” his crackdown on tech bosses in the wake of the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess and the tide of vile hate towards MPs it has exposed.
The Online Harms Bill – which is working its way through Parliament currently – will create a new duty of care for tech bosses.
Anyone who flouts it will face fines which could hit billions of pounds.
But in a major shift, Mr Johnson suggested he could massively toughen up the policy so tech bosses could be held criminally liable for sick content on their sites.
It could mean the bosses of YouTube, Facebook or Twitter could be prosecuted and put in jail if they fail to crack down on posts which incite violence and terror.
The PM told the House of Commons: “We will continue to look at ways in which we can toughen up those provisions and come down hard on those who irresponsibly allow dangerous and extremist content to permeate the internet.”
He said “the safety of MPs – of all public servants and everybody who engages with the public – is of vital importance”.
He added: “The Online Safety Bill is of huge importance and is one of the most important tools in our armoury.
“What we are doing is ensuring that we crack down on companies that promote illegal and dangerous content, and we will be toughening up those provisions.”
In its current form, the Online Safety Bill only levies massive fines if a firm fails to keep its users safe.
But it has a ‘back up clause’ which would hold named bosses of companies criminally liable – but it would need extra legislation to be brought into force.
Government insiders warned tech bosses at the time they were on their last chance before the tough measures would be brought in.
However, Downing Street is now willing to look at the measure and other proposals to get tougher with tech bosses.
The Bill is currently being combed through by a committee of MPs who will suggest amendments before it comes back to the Commons just before Christmas.
Sir Keir Starmer said Labour will back the Bill – meaning it will definitely become law.
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