Far-Right Violence and Online Extremism

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:43 pm on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 4:43 pm, 18th March 2019

As I said earlier, one of the reasons that some of these things remain online is that the servers of the companies are often abroad and out of our jurisdiction. We are seeking the powers to do something about that through the online harms White Paper. If these companies have a nexus in the UK, it gives us more power. If they do not, we have to look at other technical issues and see whether we can do this another way. The White Paper is imminent, and I am happy to meet the hon. Gentleman and any Member from across the House to discuss whether they think it is too soft or too hard, or what needs to be done to improve it.

The hon. Gentleman points out one of the real challenges. The United States’ first amendment protects freedom of speech. We often approach companies in America asking them to take down websites and so on, and we get a first amendment response—that is, that they are obliged to United States law and the first amendment. That is why we ultimately have to seek an international solution to go alongside whatever regulation we look at here.