Former Royal Navy head says Britain needs to hit social media giants where it hurts to protect children from paedophiles

SOCIAL media giants need to be hit where it hurts to protect children from online predators and terrorists, a former head of the Royal Navy has insisted.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 7:00 pm
Admiral Lord Alan West, former First Sea Lord, said tougher action is needed.

Admiral Lord Alan West has called on Britain to take a tougher stance on cyber safety and demanded the government take action against the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

Speaking in the House of Lords, the Labour peer said the only way was to grab media giants by ‘a certain part of their anatomy’ and starve those failing to protect youngsters from paedophiles of cash.

His comment comes after the UK announced plans to introduce new laws designed to tackle social media companies streaming child abuse, extremism, terror attacks and cyberbullying.

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Social media giants like Facebook are being targeted by the new rules. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Launched on this week, the Online Harms white paper revealed what the government claimed will be tough new laws for internet companies.

The new measures have been touted as a world-leading initiative by supporters and will enforce a statutory duty of care on social media firms as well as lead to the appointment of an independent regulator.

However, Lord West, felt the new laws did not go far enough and wanted to see online giants that breach them being slapped with hefty fines.

He said: ‘My Lords, we must not delude ourselves; despite everything the major internet giants and the social media platforms say about how they are trying to advance the cause of humankind and make things better for us, they are there to make profit – to make money.

‘In the same way as when you are dealing with a chap and you grab him by a certain part of his anatomy, his mind follows, if you grab their money, their minds will follow.

‘Anything we do about punishing must focus on the money side, because that will grab their attention.’

Under the current proposal, companies could be penalised for failing to act to take down child abuse, terrorist acts and revenge pornography, as well as behaviours such as cyberbullying, spreading disinformation and encouraging self-harm.

Senior social media executives could be held personally liable for failure to remove such content from their platforms.

The move comes as reports of child abuse online have risen from 110,000 globally in 2004 to 18.4m last year.