Theresa May wants G7 leaders to force major tech firms to fight terrorism online

  • UK prime minister Theresa May wants G7 leaders to co-operate in forcing tech firms like Facebook and Google to block more terrorist content online
  • She will make the request during a meeting with the G7 on Friday
  • Tech firms are already feeling severe political pressure about their role in hosting terror and hateful content

Facebook, Google, and Twitter are about to feel serious political pressure about their role in hosting terrorist and hate content online.

UK prime minister Theresa May is about to ask the world’s seven most powerful leaders to crack down on big tech firms, and force them to do more to take down terrorist videos and other content that’s posted online, according to The Guardian.

May is due to chair a session in Italy today involving the leaders of the G7, a collective of the world’s seven most advanced economies. They include Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, US president Donald Trump, French president Emmanuel Macron, and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

She will reportedly ask them to co-operate to force tech firms to build tools that identify and remove terrorist content, inform the authorities when they do identify harmful material, and come up with clearer guidelines about what counts as harmful material.

Sources told the newspaper that May was keen to hold the tech firms to account, though she doesn’t want to have to fine them to make them co-operate. They said: “The prime minister will say that the threat we face is evolving rather than disappearing as [Isis] loses ground in Iraq and Syria. The fight is moving from the battlefield to the internet.”

May’s comments come four days after a suicide bomber detonated a nail bomb in Manchester, killing at least 22 people.

Spokesmen for Google and Twitter told Business Insider they were already taking proactive measures against hateful content online.

A Google spokesman said:

“We are committed to working in partnership with governments and NGOs to tackle these challenging and complex problems, and share the government’s commitment to ensuring terrorists do not have a voice online. We are already working with industry colleagues on plans for an international forum to help accelerate and strengthen our existing work in this area. We employ thousands of people and invest hundreds of millions of pounds to fight abuse on our platforms, and will continue investing and adapting to ensure we are part of the solution to addressing these challenges.”

A spokesman for Twitter pointed to the company’s latest transparency report, and its track record in taking proactive steps to take down harmful content.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is the third political attack on the major tech firms recently. Earlier this month, MPs described tech firms as “a disgrace” because they don’t do enough to catch harmful content online. And the Home Office is reportedly trying to push new rules through Parliament that would force tech firms to remove encryption.

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