Starmer flags Board concern on online extremism, saying ‘tough sanctions’ needed

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Starmer flags Board concern on online extremism, saying ‘tough sanctions’ needed

Labour leader highlighted Telegram as 'the app of choice for terrorists' as he urged the government to toughen up its Online Harms bill

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keir Starmer highlighted communal concerns about extremist content online, as he called for the government to crack down on the directors of firms that allow it.

During Prime Ministers Question Time in the House of Commons, the Labour leader referred to the Board of Deputies and anti-racism group Hope Not Hate’s worries about the Telegram platform, which he said had come to be known as “the app of choice for terrorists.”

They “have said that Telegram has, in their words, facilitated and nurtured a sub-culture that cheers leads terrorists.

“Tough sanctions are clearly needed, yet under the government’s current proposals directors of platforms failing to crack down on extremism would still not face criminal sanctions. Why is that?”

Responding Boris Johnson said: “It is this government that brought forward the Online Harms Bill.”

The PM  also pledged that pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill would be completed before the end of the year – meaning the second reading of the proposals could then go ahead.

Responding to Starmer’s call for criminal sanctions of social media firms who fail to stop extremist content the PM said:”We will have criminal sanctions with tough sentences.”

He added:”What we’re doing is ensuring  we crackdown on companies that promote illegal and dangerous content and we’ll be toughening up those provisions.”

The exchange, during Wednesday’s PMQs, came after last week’s tragic death of the MP Sir  David Amess, and claims the attacker had allegedly been radicalised by online content.

Starmer appeared to rule out calls to close down anonymous online accounts.

“Closing down anonymous accounts would not have prevented the murder of Jo Cox, nor of PC Keith Palmer and although we don’t know the full circumstances surrounding his death, nor would it have saved Sir David,” he added.

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