Posted on October 18, 2021

Priti Patel Could Remove Your Right to Anonymity on Social Media

Harrison Jones, Metro, October 17, 2021

The Home Secretary says she is not ruling out ditching anonymity on social media in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess.

Priti Patel said it could form part of efforts to tackle online abuse.

Asked on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme about whether the right could be removed, she said: ‘I want us to look at everything.

‘There is work taking place already. We have an Online Harms Bill that will come to Parliament, there is working taking place on it right now.

‘I’ve done a lot of work on social media platforms, mainly around encryption and areas of that nature.’

The Home Secretary continued: ‘But we can’t carry on like this. I spend too much time with communities who have been under attack, basically who have had all sorts of postings online and it is a struggle to get those posts taken down.

‘We want to make some big changes on that.’

It comes after Conservative Sir David became the second MP in five years to be killed, after Labour’s Jo Cox was murdered in 2016.

Ms Patel has also ordered an ‘immediate review’ of MPs’ safety and on Sunday added that protection officers for them are ‘under consideration’.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said she was not sure the threat to MPs could ever be eliminated, adding that she did not feel safe.

Ms Nandy, a senior opposition figure and friend of the late Ms Cox, said people online had to be held to account for ‘what would be criminal behaviour in the real world’.

Asked about publishing the names of people anonymously abusing public figures on social media, she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: ‘We are a bit cautious about just simply ending anonymity on social media.

‘I work with a lot of people, whether it is the women of Belarus, or the pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, whistleblowers as well – people for whom anonymity on social media can be life-saving.

‘So the trick is to get the right balance.’

She accused the Government of ‘dragging its feet’ on the issue ‘for years’ and called for a code for how social media companies should respond to online hate.