Aug 01, 2017
Major tech companies must step up fight against extremism, says Rudd
The home secretary has said that major technology companies must do more to combat extremism, or face new laws.
Amber Rudd told the BBC that technology companies were not doing enough to beat ‘the enemy’ on the internet. She said encryption tools used by messaging apps had become a ‘problem’.
Rudd said that extremists should not be allowed to upload content at all.
She said: “That’s what we’re really trying to achieve.
“What [technology companies] have been saying to us is using artificial intelligence, they’re beginning to make progress in that way.”
In recent years messaging services have adopted end-to-end encryption, making it almost impossible for messages to be accessed without a user’s permission.
Rudd told the BBC that the UK government supported encryption, with caveats.
She said: “We support its place in making sure that we have secure facilities in our daily lives.
"However, there is a problem in terms of the growth of end-to-end encryption.
"It’s a problem for the security services and for police who are not, under the normal way, under properly warranted paths, able to access that information.
“We want [technology companies] to work more closely with us on end-to-end encryption, so that where there is particular need, where there is targeted need, under warrant, they share more information with us so that we can access it.”
Rudd said new legislation could be introduced if the companies did not take it upon themselves to clamp down on the spread of extremist content. Specifically, companies must seek to block material at source.
She added: “None of this material should be online. They need to take ownership over making sure it isn’t.
“It’s governments that need to urge them to really take action so that we don’t have to go down the road of legislation - and get them to do it on a voluntary but urgent basis.
“Legislation is always an alternative.”
Rudd is meeting with representatives from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and others at a counter-terrorism forum in San Francisco. It is the first gathering of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, an organisation set up by the major companies in the wake of recent terror attacks.