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Government ‘rows back’ on PM’s pledge to sanction tech bosses


Government ‘rows back’ on PM’s pledge to sanction tech bosses

Government sources have rowed back on Boris Johnson’s apparent commitment to criminal sanctions for tech company bosses who fail to tackle harmful or illegal content.

However, the new culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, who has first-hand experience of online abuse, is minded to take a tougher approach on sanctions than her predecessor Oliver Dowden, though she is still taking advice.

During prime minister’s questions, Johnson appeared to agree with Keir Starmer that the delayed online harms bill would include a commitment to possible criminal sanctions.

The proposals already include deferred powers on new criminal offence and the bill already contains the power to issue fines, but any change to immediately implement criminal sanctions would be a significant hardening of the proposals.

Johnson promised to present the bill to parliament before Christmas in the wake of the killing of Sir David Amess. That prospect was also later played down by Whitehall sources, saying that would give them just five days to re-draft the bill between the pre-legislative scrutiny committee reporting and the bill being presented.

Pressed by Starmer on what measures he would take, Johnson agreed with the idea of a cross-party approach but also peppered his responses with partisan criticisms, prompting some shouts of complaint in the Commons.

Starmer began his questions by noting the tributes to Amess, the veteran Conservative backbencher who was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery on Friday, given by MPs from all parties in the Commons on Monday.

“I want to see if we can use that collaborative spirit to make progress on one of the issues that was raised on Monday – tackling violent extremism,” Starmer said, asking about progress for the online safety bill, first mooted three years ago.

Starmer said: “Will the prime minister build on the desire shown by this house on Monday to get things done, and commit to bringing forward the second reading of the online safety bill by the end of this calendar year? If he does, we’ll support it.”

Johnson replied by initially pledging the bill would complete all its stages before Christmas, before correcting himself – seemingly at the prompting of the home secretary, Priti Patel, who was sitting next to him – to say he would “bring it forward before Christmas in the way that he suggests – and I’m delighted that he is offering his support”.

Starmer then pressed on potential changes to the proposed bill, saying: “Tough sanctions are clearly needed, yet under the government’s current proposals, directors of platforms failing to crack down on extremism would still not face criminal sanctions. Why is that?”

In a later answer, Johnson appeared to agree to this, saying: “And yes, of course we will have criminal sanctions with tough sentences for those who are responsible for allowing this foul content to permeate the internet.”

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TCN Restores National Grid

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has announced the restoration of the national grid after its partial collapse on Monday.

This was made known by Mrs Ndidi Mbah, TCN’s General Manager, Public Affairs in a statement in Abuja.

Mbah said that the national grid experienced partial system disturbance at about 10.51 am, as a result of a sudden drop in system frequency, which created system instability.

She said that the restoration of the affected grid commenced immediately at 11.55 am with Osogbo/Ihovbor, followed by Jebba/Osogbo, Kainji/Jebba, Benin/Onitsha, Shiroro/Kaduna, Shiroro/Katampe and Alaoji/Ikot-Ekpene.

Others are Lokoja/Gwagwalada, Odukpani/Ikot Ekpene, Benin/Omotosho, Oke-Aro/Ikeja west, Egbin/Oke-Aro and Kaduna/Kano.

She said the grid restoration has almost been completed, adding that the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) regrets any inconveniences caused.

Mbah said NESI appreciated the understanding of electricity customers within and outside the country.

According to her, NESI is committed to leveraging the concerted interventions instituted so far to enhance power supply reliability so that the issue of system disturbance will soon become outdated.

She said the National Control Centre would launch a full-scale investigation “to establish and ascertain the cause of the partial disturbance as this unwholesome event has resulted in aggregated generation loss.



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Chukwudi Ajaegbu, 35, Arraigned For $11,000 Fraud

A 35-year-old importer, Chukwudi Ajaegbu, has been arraigned before the Ogba Magistrate’s Court for allegedly obtaining $11,000 fraudulently from one Austine Ukaoha in the Ikeja area of Lagos State.

Ajaegbu appeared before Magistrate F.M. Onamusi on a three count charge.

The defendant, with others at large, were said to have conspired to commit felony, to wit stealing, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 411 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria 2015.

According to the police, sometime in 2010 on Bread Fraint Street, in the Balogun area of Lagos, the defendant, with others at large, conspired among themselves to obtain the sum under false pretences.

The charges read in part, “That you, Chukwudi Ajaegbu, on the same date, time and place, in the Lagos Magisterial District, did fraudulently obtain the sum of $11,000 from one Austine Ukaoha, under the pretence of importing goods from China, the presentation known to be false, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 314 (3) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, Nigeria 2015.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Magistrate Onamusi adjourned the matter till December 7, 2022.

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2023: NBC Tasks Broadcasters On Professionalism

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has tasked broadcasters to handle political campaigns with professionalism.

The director-general of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah said this on Monday at a multi-stakeholders dialogue held in Abuja.

As campaigns for the 2023 elections are set to begin on September 28, Ilelah asked broadcasters to ensure not to allow hate speech or fake news on their platforms.

“This is in addition to ensuring equity in airtime allocation and coverage of political parties’ activities, particularly during prime times,” he said.

“It is also the time for you to make money from political adverts and campaigns, but ensure that this is done within the ambit of law.

“Broadcasters are also required to handle live political rallies with care and due professionalism. This is in addition to studio-based live political interviews/broadcasts. Because of the sensitivities of such programmes, broadcasters are advised to install delay mechanisms.

“Remember that broadcast stations are held responsible for any breach. The stations shall, therefore, assume and accept editorial responsibility”, he added.

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