Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

United Kingdom government warns social media giants to fight extremism or face fines

Home Office Minister Ben Wallace said the Government believed'quite strongly that a foreign state was behind the ransomware attack and named North Korea Facebook, Google and WhatsApp among tech titans told to join fight against terror or face tax blitz
Sherri Watson | 02 January, 2018, 19:57

Wallace says the internet companies cost government huge amounts by failing to assist the security services in identifying terrorists and stamping out extremism online.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and other tech giants aren't doing enough to take down extremist content in an efficient manner, according to one prominent United Kingdom lawmaker, and it could lead to severe fines.

He argued that because it takes so long for content to be flagged and removed, the government is being forced to spend "millions" on de-radicalisation processes rather than preventative measures.

Wallace said that inaction from internet giants means the cost of tackling terror content is "heaped on law enforcement agencies" - and the state should be able to recoup that in some way.

Wallace added that if the tech giants continue being less than cooperative, the government should look at new taxes to give incentives to the company to cooperate or compensate for their lack of action. "That's costing millions. They [the firms] can't get away with that and we should look at all options, including tax".

He said "ruthless profiteers" will not "get away" with leaving police and law enforcement to fix the damage done by radicalising content and revealed tax measures are being considered as a means to make them cooperate. They will without a second thought sell our user data to soft-porn companies and loan sharks but not to the country's democratically elected government.

Internet giants could be penalised through taxes if they fail to cooperate with Government efforts to fight terrorism
Internet giants could be penalised through taxes if they fail to cooperate with Government efforts to fight terrorism

Facebook executive Simon Milner rejected the criticisms.

Wallace's boss, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, is already in a longstanding feud with Facebook over WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption, which has reportedly seen Facebook refuse point-blank to give the government backdoor access to the service.

The UK government has repeatedly warned tech companies that more needed to be done to tackle online extremism.

Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube, and Twitter came together to form the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism in June.

In the recent past, social media firms have also upped their efforts to beat back online radicals who have been trying to spread enmity amongst people and to instigate individuals to carry out terrorist attacks.