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2 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Print

Call for tech giants to face taxes over extremist content

BBC

Internet companies should face a tax punishment for failing to deal with the threat of terrorism in the UK, security minister Ben Wallace has said, reports BBC.

Mr Wallace said firms such as Facebook, Google and YouTube were too slow to remove radical content online, forcing the government to act instead.

While tech firms were “ruthless profiteers”, governments were spending millions policing the web, he added.

Facebook said Mr Wallace was wrong to say it put profits before safety.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Wallace said tech giants were failing to help prevent the radicalisation of people online.

“Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do,” he claimed, “we’re having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised. That’s costing millions.”

He said the refusal of messaging services - such as WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook - to give the security services access to message data was “turning the internet into an anarchic violent space”.

“Because of encryption and because of radicalisation, the cost of that is heaped on law enforcement agencies,” Wallace told the newspaper. This latest tax idea is a sign ministers are trying to explore all sorts of new ways to put pressure on tech firms.

How strong a tool it might be is unclear.

Tech giants’ revenues are so high, a tax or effectively a fine, may not immediately change the measures they are already taking, although it could play well with the public.

Google and Facebook have already stepped up their efforts to identify and take down extremist content, including using artificial intelligence to spot illegal content. But ministers want them to go further.

Meanwhile smaller sites like Telegram and WordPress are a more difficult problem.

They have done far less to tackle the use of their platforms by extremists.

Firms based overseas are almost completely out of reach of any measures imposed by the UK government, and in reality when authorities try to engage with them, they don’t get very far.

Mr Wallace said “the time for excuses is at an end” and the government should look at “all options” of incentivising firms - “including tax”.

“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.”

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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