UK PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has called for 'internet companies' to do more to tackle the spread of extremist material in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack.
In a speech given on Sunday morning, May once again shook her fist in the direction of Google, Facebook and Twitter, and said that existing online "safe spaces" that allow terrorism to "breed" must be eradicated.
"We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet - and the big companies that provide internet-based services - provide," May said.
"We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online."
Facebook, which was last week commended for its efforts in tackling hate speech, was quick to respond and said it works "aggressively" to remove terrorist content and notifies law enforcement of emergencies involving imminent harm.
"We condemn the attacks that took place in London on Saturday night and our thoughts are with the families of the victims and those who are injured," added Simon Milner, Facebook's director of policy. "Facebook's Safety Check was activated by the local community last night. We hope the people in the area found the tool a helpful way to let their friends and family know they are okay."
Twitter, whose ears were also likely burning during May's speech, has also spoken out. Nick Pickles, UK head of public policy at the social network, said: "Terrorist content has no place on Twitter. We continue to expand the use of technology as part of a systematic approach to removing this type of content."
"We will never stop working to stay one step ahead and will continue to engage with our partners across industry, government, civil society and academia."
Google, whose YouTube service has long been at the heart of the ongoing internet regulation debate, said it is "committed" to ensuring terrorists do not have a voice online.
"Our thoughts are with the victims of this shocking attack, and with the families of those caught up in it. We are committed to working in partnership with the government and NGOs to tackle these challenging and complex problems," it said.
It's not just these so-called internet companies that are speaking out, as digital campaigners have been quick to criticise May for her "risky" and "draconian" approach to the web.
The Pirate Party, in a blog post titled 'Theresa May uses London Bridge attack to further her autocratic agenda', slammed the PM for using Saturday night's events to "once again further her own political agenda".
"Theresa May's desire to regulate the internet is a deathly serious threat, and we need to fight back against it with everything we have. So much of the economy, culture, communication and infrastructure of the 21st Century is founded on a free and open internet, and it is absolutely crucial that it remain that way," said Mark Chapman, Pirate Party Candidate for Vauxhall.
"Furthermore, regulating the internet will not solve the threat of terrorism. What we need is a well-funded police force with the resources to act on intel from targeted surveillance - not warrantless mass surveillance and the curbing of our human rights and freedoms."
Digital campaigners the Open Rights Group (ORG) has a similar viewpoint, and in a statement said it was disappointing the Prime Minister had focussed on regulation of the internet and encryption in the aftermath of the attack.
"This could be a very risky approach. If successful, Theresa May could push these vile networks into even darker corners of the web, where they will be even harder to observe," said Jim Killock, executive director of ORG.
"But we should not be distracted: the Internet and companies like Facebook are not a cause of this hatred and violence, but tools that can be abused. While governments and companies should take sensible measures to stop abuse, attempts to control the Internet is not the simple solution that Theresa May is claiming.
"Real solutions—as we were forced to state only two weeks ago—will require attempts to address the actual causes of extremism."
What he said. µ
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