January 15, 2023 9.00 am This story is over 15 months old

Lincolnshire MPs reported to join Conservative rebellion over PM’s Online Safety Bill

Around 40 Conservatives have signed an amendment

By Local Democracy Reporter

Four Lincolnshire MPs are believed to be part of a Conservative revolt against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s current Online Safety Bill – with rebels signing an amendment suggesting that the measures don’t go far enough to protect people on the internet.

The Prime Minister is facing pressure from his own backbenches in regards to an amendment of the Online Safety Bill, aimed at protecting children when they use the internet and introduced under Boris Johnson in March 2022.

Nearly 40 Conservative MPs are believed to have signed the amendment of the bill, which could see jail sentences for social media bosses if their platforms push harmful content.

The current bill states that hefty fines will be given to bosses at social media companies for this offence, but some MPs feel that is not a strong enough statement to make within this legislation.

The Telegraph has reported a full list of the alleged 37 names behind the rebellion, which includes Lincolnshire-based MPs Sir John Hayes, Karl McCartney, Lia Nici and Martin Vickers.

Labour are believed to be backing the amendment, meaning this could end up being Rishi Sunak’s first parliamentary defeat since he was appointed Prime Minister – when it is voted on in the Commons next week.

The importance of this Online Safety Bill has been amplified in recent weeks by the high-profile arrest of controversial online influencer Andrew Tate, who was arrested by Romanian authorities as part of a human trafficking and rape investigation.

Tate soared to notoriety online with his wildly misogynistic comments on the roles of men and women in society, amassing millions of followers with an offensive narrative disguised as an empowerment tool for young males.

Since his arrest, the former kickboxer and Celebrity Big Brother contestant has made reference to “The Matrix”, thought to be a metaphor for the societal elite that he believes are trying to silence him and control the global narrative.

Tate was banned from all social media platforms last year, but was welcomed back to Twitter once South African billionaire Elon Musk, a champion of free speech, bought out the platform in late 2022.

Great Grimsby MP Lia Nici (Conservative)

Great Grimsby MP Lia Nici confirmed her involvement in the amendment, telling The Lincolnite: “I am supporting Miriam Cates’ and Bill Cash’s amendment. We want to see criminal liability for senior tech bosses who knowingly allow content that is harmful to children to stay available on their social media platforms.

“We believe that it is only the threat of potential criminal proceeding that will ensure a culture change on these platforms.

“I am also supporting Natalie Elphicke’s amendment to stop ‘adverts’ or posts on social media platforms that are encouraging people trafficking.

“This is a particular problem on TikTok where foreign organised criminals are advertising spaces on boats to cross the English Channel, some, would you believe, offering group discounts and the like.”

The other Lincolnshire MPs in question have been contacted for comment.