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Security Minister to Social Media: “Fight Extremism or Face Tax Penalties”

UK Security Minister Ben Wallace is lashing out at tech giants and social media platforms Facebook, Google and YouTube. Not mincing any words, he called them “Ruthless profiteers” in an interview with The Sunday Times. That is for what he says is a failure to address the danger of the radicalization of people online. “They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically-elected government,” Wallace continued. He then suggests hurting these companies where it matters the most, their wallets. His suggestion includes slapping tech giants with tax fines over extremist content.

Cost of Security

Wallace argues that due to encryption and because of radicalization, the burden of cost is heaped on law enforcement agencies. “I have to have more human surveillance. It’s costing hundreds of millions of pounds. If they [internet firms] continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivising them or compensating for their inaction.”

“Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do, we’re having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised. That’s costing millions. They [the firms] can’t get away with that and we should look at all options, including tax.”

The Security Minister is not alone in his opinion. MP Damian Collins, chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee says Facebook made no efforts to root out accounts that could be linked to Russian-backed agencies during the EU referendum. Twitter did not fare well too, and face criticism from the committee for a “completely inadequate” response.

Social Media Platforms Respond

Google says that they do not have the resources to police the web. At least not in the way the politicians want them to. Suggesting that collaboration of the government and users is a necessity. On YouTube for example, they receive 200,000 reports of inappropriate content a day and review 98% within 24 hours. They have also pledged to put more resources and manpower into content filtering recently. Pledging a staff of 10,000 to track down extremist and predatory content in 2018. Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube and Twitter also teamed up to form the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism to tackle the extremist content issue.