Monday 22 January 2018

YouTube flooded with Isil videos in wake of terror attack atrocity

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd Picture: Reuters
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd Picture: Reuters
Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

Terror group Isil has posted hundreds of videos to YouTube in a bid to capitalise on publicity surrounding the Westminster attack.

Many of the videos glorify the actions of terrorist Khalid Masood, who stabbed a police officer to death after mowing down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London last week.

Others feature violence, beheadings and other horrific scenes as well as jihadist messages.

YouTube owner Google has so far failed to remove the violent content.

The company has already lost billions of dollars after more than 250 brands suspended their YouTube advertising because their commercials were appearing alongside similar hate-filled content.

Social media providers are under increasing pressure to take more responsibility for content - and there is also sharp focus on the WhatsApp messaging service.

Masood used the app seconds before mowing down pedestrians at speed and storming the parliamentary estate armed with two knives.

US President Donald Trump is under pressure to force WhatsApp to hand over vital evidence on the Westminster attack after British Home Secretary Amber Rudd gained powerful allies in Europe in her fight to bring social media firms to heel.

Scotland Yard confirmed yesterday that Masood's "communications that day are a main line of enquiry".

Yet the US-based messaging company, which is owned by Facebook, has failed to hand over the contents of the communication, infuriating Ms Rudd.

Britain has no legal power to force WhatsApp to help because it is based in America, but the US president could threaten the firm with legal action, as the FBI did in a similar fight with Apple last year.

An American tourist, Kurt Cochran, was one of the four people killed by Masood. Tourists from France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Greece, Ireland and Romania were among those injured.

Last night, members of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee urged Washington to help pressure WhatsApp executives to allow UK law enforcement officers to access the message.

Daniel Kawczynski, a Conservative committee member, said: "Americans must put pressure on WhatsApp to comply otherwise we are entering uncharted waters."

Scotland Yard and the security services cannot access what could be a vital clue in their investigation because WhatsApp uses so-called "end-to-end encryption" which the firm says prevents even its own technicians from being able to unscramble and read people's messages.

Ms Rudd has summoned WhatsApp, Facebook, Google and other online companies to talks on Thursday.

She travelled to Brussels yesterday for a meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council.

Sources said that France and Estonia were among the countries to speak in support of Ms Rudd's assertion that online platforms should not be "a safe place for terrorists to communicate". The UK home secretary has called for the encrypted networks to build back doors into their system so security services can access terrorists' messages during investigations.

Irish Independent

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