Internet: Weapons

Home Office written question – answered on 18th December 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to tackle the online sale of illegal weapons in the forthcoming legislation on online harms; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Minister of State, Home Department

The Online Harms White Paper set out an indicative list of harms that would be included in the scope of the legislation, which included the online sale of illegal weapons. While the list isn’t exhaustive or fixed it provided the starting point for our policy development.

We have published the Full Government Response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, which sets out the new expectations on companies to keep their users safe online.

The new regulatory framework will establish a duty of care on companies to improve the safety of their users online, overseen and enforced by an independent regulator, and will take particularly strong action against the most egregious illegal harms.

We will follow the Full Government Response by introducing Online Harms legislation when parliamentary time allows.

The government will set out in secondary legislation the priority harms for three types of harms: illegal harms, harms to children, and legal but harmful content.

This sits alongside the Government’s continuing action to tackle serious violence, including the use of weapons such as knives. The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 strengthens the law in relation to knives and we have in place some of the toughest firearms controls in the world to prevent criminals gaining access to dangerous and illegal weapons.

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