Speaking at Bevis Marks, the oldest synagogue in Britain, about the Definition, Oliver Dowden said: “There may be some practicalities about exactly how [social media giants] incorporate it, but the essence of the International Definition [of Antisemitism] I want them to adopt, just as the Government has committed to that.”
Mr Dowden added: “If companies fail to comply with the legislation, they will face fines of up to ten percent of their global revenue. But I’ve set out the overall direction I want them to go in and I don’t see why they can’t get on with it now.
“Ultimately, as the fallback, we will have it [in law] and we’ll look at how we incorporate the [D]efinition into the online harms legislation.”
The Culture Secretary also condemned the recent surge of antisemitism in Britain, stating: “I have lots of shuls in my constituency, not least in Bushey, Borehamwood and Radlett, and I think the community is feeling vulnerable and deeply worried. I have had people contacting me saying they didn’t expect to see these scenes on the streets of London.
“I want to send an absolutely unambiguous message to the Jewish community: that this government is on their side and we will stand absolutely steadfast and resolute in showing zero tolerance for antisemitic abuse, whether it’s in the street or online.
“A Jewish pensioner in Golders Green is a Jewish pensioner and any attacks are antisemitism, pure and simple. It does worry me that there is this kind of conflation with events in Israel. There is no culpability of Jewish people in this country, regardless of one’s views on what is happening in Israel, and it’s really important that we address this.”
Last year, the Culture Secretary announced that social media companies will have a duty of care to users under new legislation, and that “criminal antisemitic posts will need to be removed without delay”.
Campaign Against Antisemitism has been at the forefront of calls for Online Harms legislation, and last year joined a global coalition calling on Facebook to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism.
Campaign Against Antisemitism has consistently backed efforts by the Government to encourage widespread adoption of the Definition by local authorities, universities, public bodies and other institutions. The UK was the first country in the world to adopt the Definition, something for which Campaign Against Antisemitism, Lord Pickles and others worked hard over many meetings with officials at Downing Street.