TOP Tories have vowed to fight a major social media crackdown over fears it could strangle free speech and make Nick Clegg the web’s chief censor.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Home Secretary Priti Patel want to use an upcoming Online Safety Bill to force platforms like Facebook to remove content even if its not illegal – or face hefty fines.
They say it will target those glorifying self-harm or eating disorders despite that not being against the law – with regulator Ofcom handed powers to decide what crosses the line.
But it puts ministers on a collision course with Tory backbenchers afraid Silicon Valley tech giants would rush to ban any controversial content for fear of being fined.
That would make tech bosses like Facebook fatcat Sir Nick the internet’s policemen.
Ex-Cabinet Minister David Davis railed against the plans and said Parliament should determine the type of posts which get deleted instead.
He told HOAR: “Don’t leave it to the platforms themselves or Ofcom to decide as they get colonised with woke tendencies, or whatever the latest intellectual fashion is in California.
“And let’s not forget Clegg’s own history – he was very keen to extend Leveson,” the inquiry into press regulation.
He warned: “This is going to be a big argument.”
But the Digital Department insisted “news content is fully exempt and nothing in the bill will stop adults posting or accessing legal content”.
Government sources stressed that social media companies “must put in place clear policies to protect journalistic content”.
The internal Tory bust-up could come to a crunch as early as next month when the long awaited Bill is finally expected to be published.