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United Kingdom government calls on tech giants to do more to fight extremism

12 January 2018

In an interview with The Sunday Times newspaper, Wallace said that law enforcement and security services were being forced to spend hundreds of millions of pounds extra to keep Britain safe because of what he characterised as an insufficient response from the tech sector.

"We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers", added Wallace. "It's costing hundreds of millions of pounds".

As part of the new forum, the companies said they would share best practices regarding "content detection and classification techniques using machine learning" and "define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals". "They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically-elected government", Wallace continued.

The government is also spending vast sums on counter-terrorism operations as well as on additional human surveillance to track down radicals and their followers.

Social media companies have not done enough to help and they have even obstructed government efforts to fight extremism by blocking access to encrypted messages or by allowing extremist content to remain on their sites which is costing taxpayers a great deal of money.

Wallace said: "If they [internet firms] continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivising them or compensating for their inaction".

Facebook which owns WhatsApp and You Tube joined Microsoft and Twitter to form the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism in June. Ritchie B Tongo EPA
Tax Burden: UK Poised to Prod Web Companies to Help Fight Terrorism – Minister

Both Facebook and Google disagreed with Wallace's assessment. That's costing millions. They can't get away with that and we should look at all the options, including tax, ' he said.

The UK Minister of State for Security Ben Wallace has warned that the government's patience is "running out fast" with Internet firms which prefer profits to public safety.

A YouTube spokesperson rejected the criticism and said the firm was doing it's all to tackle online extremism.

Youtube, which is owned by Google parent company Alphabet, has increased its "extremist-tackling" technology this year, which resulted in its algorithm removing content from journalists and conflict monitors.

Roughly 90 percent of the 101 terrorism cases brought by US prosecutors between March 2014 and June 2016 concerned suspects who used social media, according to a report published by Fordham Law School's Center on National Security in 2016.

United Kingdom government calls on tech giants to do more to fight extremism