Britain could incentivize tech companies to remove extremist content from online platforms

Google’s YouTube has made rapid gains in machine learning technology and said, 83% of violent extremist content is removed without the need for human intervention.

Britain may impose new taxes on tech giants, including Facebook, Apple and Google, as it finds way to mitigate the threat of online extremism by taking down material aimed at radicalizing people or helping them to prepare attacks, the country’s security minister said.

Accusing tech firms of profiting from people’s data, Ben Wallace accused them of not sharing it with the government, which was being forced to spends huge sums of money to de-radicalization the populace, on surveillance and other counter-terrorism measures.

“If they continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivizing them or compen­sating for their inaction,” said Wallace in an interview to the Sunday Times, a newspaper.

Wallace did not elaborate on the British government’s plan on incentivizing tech companies to collaborate with the government on data sharing for counter-terrorism measures.

The Sunday Times stated, any demand by the government on tech companies is likely to take the form of a windfall tax similar to the one that was imposed on privatized utilities by former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government in 1997.

“We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers,” he said. “They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government,” said Wallace while accusing the tech giants of putting private profit before public safety.

Rejecting the criticisms, Facebook’s executive Simon Milner said, “Mr Wallace is wrong to say that we put profit before safety, especially in the fight against terrorism. We’ve invested millions of pounds in people and technology to identify and remove terrorist content.”

Google-owned YouTube also said it was increasing its efforts mitigate the affects of violent extremism on its platform.

“Over the course of 2017 we have made significant progress through investing in machine learning technology, recruiting more reviewers, building partnerships with experts and collaboration with other companies,” said YouTube’s spokeswoman.

Significantly, According to YouTube, improvements and further progress in machine learning has resulted in 83% of violent extremist contents being removed from its platform without the need of users flagging it.


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