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Keir Starmer challenges Boris Johnson to sanction social media platforms for extremist content


“Strong penalties are clearly needed,” Keir Starmer said (

Eleanor Langford

2 minutes to read

Boris Johnson said the government “will have criminal penalties with stiff penalties” for those who do not tackle harmful content on their platforms after Labor leader Keir Starmer said there was still a “safe space for terrorists “online.

In moderate questions from the Prime Minister following the murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess last week, the Labor leader also warned that “the damage caused by harmful online content is worse than ever” as he urged the Prime Minister to advance second reading of the Online Damage Bill.

“We have to continue with this,” Starmer told the Commons on Wednesday, adding that the Telegram encrypted messaging app has become “the app of choice for extremists.”

“If you can believe it, as we paid tribute to Sir David on Monday, Telegram users could access videos of murders and violent threats against politicians, the LGBT community, women and Jews – as we render tribute.

“Some of these messages are illegal. All of them are harmful. Hope Not Hate and the Council of Deputies said the telegram has enabled, facilitated and nurtured a subculture that encourages terrorists, ”he said.

“Strong penalties are clearly needed. Yet, according to the government’s current proposals, platform directors, failing to crack down on extremism would still not be subject to criminal sanctions.

Johnson said the government “will continue to look for ways to strengthen” the anti-hate online provision and pledged to “severely clamp down on those who irresponsibly let dangerous and extremist content permeate the Internet.”

“We will have criminal penalties with stiff penalties for those responsible for letting this vile content permeate the Internet,” the prime minister said.

“But what we also hope is that no matter how harsh the proposals we make, that the opposition supports them.”

He also welcomed Starmer’s call for the online mischief bill to be introduced and pledged to have a second reading before the end of the year.

The two leaders also clashed over the tone of the prime minister’s questioning in the days following Amess’s death, with Starmer calling for a “collegial spirit.”

“After the week that we just had, I really don’t want to fall into that kind of reversal,” he said.

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