Posted on June 5, 2017 by staff

Tech firms respond to extremist content criticism


Facebook has said it is working to become a “hostile environment for terrorists” following Theresa May’s call to close the “safe space” for terrorists online.

“Using a combination of technology and human review, we work aggressively to remove terrorist content from our platform as soon as we become aware of it — and if we become aware of an emergency involving imminent harm to someone’s safety, we notify law enforcement,” said Simon Milner, Facebook’s director of policy.

Speaking outside 10 Downing Street on Sunday morning the prime minister said new measures must be introduced to regulate the internet following the most recent terrorist attack in London.

“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed – yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide,” said Theresa May.

“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.”

Twitter has also responded saying that “terrorist content has no place on” its platform and Google said it has invested heavily into fighting abuse on its platforms, and is already working on an “international forum to accelerate and strengthen our existing work in this area”.

The call follows hot on the heels of the introduction of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, also known as the “Snooper’s Charter”, which gives spying agencies and the government more power to access private information on the internet.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has also clarified that tech firms need to remove extremist content from their platforms and control the amount of end-to-end encryption available to terrorists.

End-to-end encryption renders communications unreadable if intercepted en route.

It is worth noting that May and Rudd’s feelings are not shared across all parties.

“These issues are not going be solved with political gimmicks or by banning particular technologies,” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron wrote in an article for the Guardian.

“Instead of posturing, politicians need to work with technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, and with other countries, to develop solutions that work to keep people safe.

“The alternative is a government that monitors and controls the internet in the way that China or North Korea does. If we turn the internet into a tool for censorship and surveillance, the terrorists will have won. We won’t make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free.”