Two key figures in the UK Labour Party, deputy leader Angela Rayner and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan are urging the government to pass new regulations on “online hate” as soon as possible, indicating the party’s priorities if it defeats the ruling Conservative Party in the next election.
Leftist politicians demanded more action from the government during an event at the annual Labour Party conference this weekend, despite the fact that British laws already criminalise “hate speech.”
In 2017, British police arrested nearly 3,400 people for “offensive” online comments, but Labour’s top figures believe that hate speech laws should be even harsher.
“They’ve tried to self-regulate. They’ve not been able to do it. It’s time for us to legislate,” said Rayner. “We need to find a way for these organisations to accept responsibility for that space.”
“In the absence of them regulating themselves, the government has got to regulate companies like Facebook and Twitter,” said Khan. “That’s why the online harms bills are so important. Hate has been monetised.”
“What Twitter and others have got to be doing is investing in algorithms or staff to take this stuff down as soon as it goes up, and especially once it’s reported. If I was breaching copyright with a song someone else had written, it would be taken down straight away.”
The ruling Conservative government is currently considering two significant pieces of internet regulation, the Online Safety Bill and the Digital Markets Bill.
The Online Safety Bill, which empowers the government to imprison “trolls” and purveyors of “disinformation,” as well as anyone who publishes posts likely to cause “psychological harm,” may be as draconian as Labour wishes.
Conservative MPs are increasingly pushing for a shift in internet regulation limiting tech companies’ ability to ban and blacklist British citizens based on their political beliefs.
These attempts may or may not succeed, but if Rayner and Khan’s comments are any indication, there would be little point in attempting them under a Labour government.