Bahama Times

Friday, Mar 01, 2024

Rishi Sunak facing major Tory rebellion over internet dictatorship law

Rishi Sunak facing major Tory rebellion over internet dictatorship law

Rishi Sunak is facing a major backbench rebellion over the government's plans to prevent “harmful” material (criticism) on the internet.

Thirty-six Tory MPs are backing a plan to make social media bosses face prison if they fail to protect children from damaging content online.

Their amendment to the Online Safety Bill is due to be voted on next week.

The idea was suggested under Boris Johnson, but eventually dismissed in favour of higher fines for firms.

Asked about the proposal, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said she was "not ruling out" accepting any of the amendments.

Speaking to the BBC's Newscast podcast, she said she was "strongly in favour of bolstering protection for children" and would take "a sensible approach" when considering MPs' ideas.

The rebellion follows other significant backbench revolts in recent weeks over housing targets for councils and restrictions on onshore wind farms.

On both of those issues, the prime minister backed down and offered concessions to avoid defeat in the House of Commons.

Under the rebels' proposals, senior managers at tech firms could face up to two years in jail if they breach new duties to keep children safe online. The provision would not apply to search engines.


Child protection

These duties include taking "proportionate measures" to stop children seeing harmful material, including through measures such as age verification, taking content down, and parental controls.

Currently the bill would only make managers criminally liable for failing to give information to media regulator Ofcom, which is set to gain wide-ranging powers to police the internet under the new law.

Making managers liable for a failure to comply with broader safety duties in the bill was rejected after a consultation ahead of the bill's introduction, which concluded it could make the UK tech sector less attractive.

Companies failing in their legal duties, including protecting children, could be fined up to 10% of global revenue.

However, supporters of the amendment, including child protection charities, argue that only personal liability for company bosses will ensure the child safety provisions are effective.

Tory rebels point to the construction and financial services industries, which have similar personal liabilities for company managers.


'Toothless'

A leading Tory rebel, Miriam Cates, told the BBC the group met Ms Donelan earlier this week, and ministers recognise the "strength of feeling" over the issue.

She added that they were open to government concessions, but any proposal to change the law would have to retain personal liability for managers.

"I think that is the key driver of change," she told the BBC's World Tonight programme, adding: "In the construction industry we've seen a massive drop in accidents and deaths in construction since the senior manager liability was introduced."

Labour has confirmed to the BBC that it supports the rebel Tory amendment. It means the government, which has a working majority of 68, is at serious risk of defeat.

The party has tabled similar amendments throughout the bill's passage through Parliament. Labour's Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell has previously said a lack of criminal liability for social media bosses would leave Ofcom "toothless".

Other Conservatives supporting the amendment include former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, and other ex-ministers including former home secretary Priti Patel.

However, the Open Rights Group has expressed concern about the idea. Policy manager Dr Monica Horten said: "This amendment is not at all clear on what basis the tech company directors could be indicted.

"Fear of a prison sentence could lead to children being restricted from all types of content that they are legally entitled to see, either because it would be swept away or they would be denied access."

The Online Safety Bill was introduced in March under Mr Johnson, and has been repeatedly altered during its passage through Parliament.

Its progress was further delayed last month when the government decided to make more changes to the bill.

It is due to return to the Commons next Tuesday, after which it will begin what is likely to be a long journey through the House of Lords.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Bahama Times
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×