Saturday 18 November 2017

'Make social media firms pay for policing digital crimes,' says committee

Google and others came under fire from the committee. Photo: Bloomberg
Google and others came under fire from the committee. Photo: Bloomberg

Kate McCann

Social media firms may be forced to pay for the cost of policing digital crimes and should be fined if they do not quickly censor illegal posts, under plans published by a British parliamentary committee today.

The UK's home affairs select committee says that the behaviour of Facebook, Twitter and Google has been "completely irresponsible and indefensible" and that they should be presented with the bill for investigating crimes committed over their networks.

It is "shockingly easy" to find terrorist material online and companies should face multi-million pound fines and sanctions unless they begin taking robust action.

Similar "policing" charges are levied on football clubs and late-night drinking establishments that are blamed for fuelling certain types of crime.

Amber Rudd, the British home secretary, welcomed the report and said its recommendations were being studied "carefully", while police chiefs also said that action was now necessary.

Ms Rudd said that social media firms had to prove that they were serious about tackling criminal activity online.

"We have made it very clear that we will not tolerate the internet being used as a place for terrorists to promote their vile views, or use social media platforms to weaponise the most vulnerable people in our communities," she said.

"We will continue to push the internet companies to make sure they deliver on their commitments to further develop technical tools to identify and remove terrorist propaganda and to help smaller companies to build their capabilities. I will expect to see early and effective action."

The home affairs committee calls on UK Prime Minister Theresa May to punish social media companies that fail to remove criminal content after its investigation found they were "shamefully far" from tackling terrorist and criminal postings properly. "Social media companies' failure to deal with illegal and dangerous material online is a disgrace," the committee said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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