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Online Harms: Social Media

Volume 678: debated on Monday 13 July 2020

We are firmly committed to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online. We will be publishing a full Government response to the online harms White Paper consultation in the autumn and our ambition is to bring forward legislation in this Session. In the meantime, the Home Office continues to engage with social media platforms on the safety of their users. We are clear that these companies need to take action now to tackle illegal harms.

It has been more than a year since the Government published their online harms White Paper and yet there is still no proper protection in place. Instead, all we have had are delays, ministerial briefings about potentially watering down the sanctions within the White Paper, and continued intensive lobbying by tech giants, which are still failing to remove harmful content and disinformation. That really is poor, so can the Minister update the House about what conversations she has had with social media companies about taking down harmful content and when exactly will the online harms Bill finally be published?

The online harms White Paper was world leading in its ambitions to sort out the online world. We are very clear that what is illegal offline is also illegal online and that has been the driving force behind our work on this White Paper and on the consultation. As I have said, we will be responding to the consultation in the autumn. We are very much working at pace on this, but we should not shirk the fact that we are leading the world potentially with this work, including our work on tackling online child sexual exploitation, and we all want this abuse to stop.