‘TikTok traffickers’ using video to promote channel crossing must be prosecuted – MP | News from politics
“TikTok traders” who use social media to solicit migrants for small boat crossings face criminal sanctions, ministers have been told.
Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke believes that promoting channel transitions on networks like TikTok and Facebook should be recognized as a crime.
During a Commons debate on the Online Safety Bill, the Dover MP – whose constituency is on the front lines of Britain’s migration crisis – suggested criminalizing such online advertising would save lives and help curb the business model of human trafficking groups.
Ms Elphicke highlighted the “massive increase in the number of Albanians crossing the Channel in small boats” – and said it had “become easy to find criminal gangs posting in Albanian on TikTok, with videos showing happy migrants featuring thumbs up at rubber dinghies speeding across the channel and heading to Britain with ease”.
She called on the Commons to support her amendment to the bill, saying: “The new Clause 55 will fight TikTok traders and help ensure people don’t risk their lives making these journeys across the English Channel.”
A group of more than 50 deputies recently wrote to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging him to introduce emergency legislation aimed at banning small boat crossings.
Ms Elphicke’s amendment would create a new criminal offense of “intentionally sharing a photograph or film which facilitates or encourages modern slavery or illegal immigration”.
It has the support of a group of Tory backbenchers including former Ministers Sir John Hayes and Tim Loughton.
Ms Elphicke told MPs: “Advertising in this regard is not being done through an advert in the local paper, but through the online posting of a video and photos online.”
The home secretary promises to do “whatever it takes” to tackle the “small boat problem” in the English Channel
Tories are calling for changes to modern slavery rules to send ‘fake asylum seekers’ home
‘There’s no life here’: Albanians undeterred from seeking a life in Britain
She told ministers TikTok, WhatsApp and Facebook have all been identified as platforms actively used by people smugglers and said “action is needed… to save lives in the English Channel”.
Ms Elphicke said her change would deter traffickers more.
She added: “It will make it harder for people smugglers to sell their goods, it will help protect people who would be exploited and vulnerable by these criminal gangs.
“Risks of life and injury, the risk of modern slavery and the risk of being drawn into more crime both abroad and here in the UK are very real.
“It’s another tool in the toolbox to fight illegal immigration and prevent modern slavery.”
Culture Secretary Paul Scully said he would work closely with Ms Elphicke to get the bill passed before it is considered in the House of Lords.
“The legislation will give our law enforcement agencies and social media companies the powers and guidance they need to stop the promotion of organized criminal activity on social media.”