UK could make posting videos of boats crossing Channel in 'positive light' illegal
Posting video footage of people crossing the English Channel in “a positive light” could be considered illegal content, according to an amendment to a draft bill tabled by the UK government on Tuesday.
British Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan announced in a statement to parliament that measures to tackle “illegal immigration” had been added to the ongoing Online Safety Bill.
Donelan said that stopping crossings of the channel was a government priority, and that “organised crime groups are increasingly using social media to facilitate migrant crossings”.
She added that it was an offence to “arrange the travel of another person, including through recruitment, with a view to their exploitation,” and that “aiding, abetting, counselling and conspiring” in such offences would be cracked down on.
“Posting videos of people crossing the channel which show that activity in a positive light could be an offence that is committed online and therefore falls within what is priority illegal content,” Donelan said.
“The result of this amendment would therefore be that platforms would have to proactively remove that content.”
Elsewhere in the announcement, the culture secretary said that tech executives who ignored regulatory warnings to protect children from online harm could face up to two years in prison.
The amendments to the Online Safety Bill were brought forward after pressure from backbench Conservative parliamentarians.
Dover MP Natalie Elphicke and South Holland and the Deepings MP John Haynes tabled the amendment to use the Online Safety Bill to address Channel crossings.
The bill is currently in its reporting stage, and will shortly move to the House of Lords after the completion of its third reading in the Commons.
In December, four people died and over 40 were rescued in the Channel after a small boat sank off the southeastern coast of England.
A year earlier, 31 people died after their inflatable dinghy sank near Calais, in the deadliest single disaster in recent years on the maritime migration route between France and England.