UK bill seeks to remove videos of migrant crossings

People believed to be migrants disembark a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat after being rescued from the English Channel while crossing from France, in Dover

LONDON (Reuters) - Tech platforms could be forced to remove videos that show "in a positive light" migrants arriving in Britain illegally using small boats, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said on Tuesday, as slated reforms seek to toughen digital laws.

At the same time as toughening its Online Safety Bill to mean tech bosses could be jailed, Donelan said the government also intended to add further amendments to the bill "to better tackle illegal immigration encouraged by organised gangs".

The measure comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under increasing pressure from his own members of parliament and the public to deal with the small boats.

The amendment seeks to make posting some videos that show migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats an offence by linking them to existing immigration offences.

"Aiding, abetting, counselling, conspiring etc. those offences by posting videos of people crossing the channel which show that activity in a positive light could be an offence that is committed online," Donelan said in a written statement.

The Online Safety Bill is not yet law, and any amendments are subject to agreement by both houses of British parliament.

Britain announced measures in December to prevent migrants who crossed the English Channel from remaining in the country, with Sunak outlining a series of strategies for dealing with illegal immigration.

Last year, a deadly small boat crossing led to four deaths after a boat loaded with migrants that was heading for Britain from France capsized in the English Channel.

(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman; Editing by William James and Vin Shahrestani)