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Boris Johnson reads the riot act to online tech giants

today read the riot act to social media firms as he said they must do more to tackle extreme pornography posted on their networks. 

The Prime Minister said ‘people are coarsened and degraded by this stuff’ and ‘it is time the online giants realised that they cannot simply think of themselves as neutral pieces of infrastructure’.

Mr Johnson told senior MPs on the Liaison Committee this afternoon that the firms ‘are publishers and they have responsibility for what appears on their systems’.

Meanwhile, the premier also backed calls to make cyber flashing a criminal offence. 

Cyber flashing refers to when a person is sent an unsolicited sexual image on their mobile device by a stranger nearby through AirDrop, a file-sharing function on iPhones. 

Boris Johnson today read the riot act to social media firms as he said they must do more to tackle extreme pornography posted on their networks

The Government is bringing forward an Online Safety Bill, previously known as the Online Harms Bill, which is designed to make tech firms more accountable for user-generated harmful content hosted on their platforms. 

Caroline Nokes, the chairman of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, told Mr Johnson that ‘one of the cultures underpinning male violence against women is the easy access to extreme, violent, degrading pornography’.

She asked: ‘Can we have any confidence that the online harms legislation that you have said we are going to get to vote on before Christmas will do anything to address that?’

Mr Johnson replied: ‘It is clear that people are coarsened and degraded by this stuff and we will see what we can do. 

‘The technological difficulties are quite extreme but it is up to the online giants to make sure that they don’t have this stuff on their systems.

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‘We will take the steps necessary to hold them to account and that is what the Online Harms Bill is designed to do.’

Asked if the new legislation will force companies to take action against such material, the PM said: ‘It is time the online giants realised that they cannot simply think of themselves as neutral pieces of infrastructure.

‘They are publishers and they have responsibility for what appears on their systems and the Online Harms Bill is designed to give effect to that distinction.’

The new laws could see executives held criminally liable for safety breaches on their platforms. 

Currently those sanctions could be introduced two years after the legislation is implemented but there are calls for the Government to move more quickly. 

Mr Johnson told senior MPs on the Liaison Committee this afternoon that the firms ‘are publishers and they have responsibility for what appears on their systems’

Mr Johnson told Julian Knight, the chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, he shared ‘anxiety about the deferred sanctions that we are currently looking at and let me take that away’. 

He added: ‘I think that we want the strongest possible deterrent and the strongest possible sanctions against people who run online companies who are allowing a torrent of hateful stuff to appear on their networks.’  

Mr Knight also asked the PM if he believes cyber flashing should be made illegal. 

Mr Johnson replied: ‘I don’t care whether flashing is cyber or not — it should be illegal.’

Asked if the situs slot online jackpot terbesar Safety Bill will be updated to reflect that, the PM said: ‘If you can draft something that will capture it, let’s have a look at it.’

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