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UK government warns social media giants to fight extremism or face fines

(Image credit: Image Credit: Easy Camera / Shutterstock)

The government has warned social media companies that they could be penalised through taxes if they fail to cooperate with the government's efforts to fight extremism and terrorism online. 

According to minister of state for security Ben Wallace, Britain is now more vulnerable than it has been for 100 years as a result of terrorism spurred on by radicalised content online and patience is wearing thin with companies that put their own profits before public safety. 

Social media companies have not done enough to help and they have even obstructed government efforts to fight extremism by blocking access to encrypted messages or by allowing extremist content to remain on their sites which is costing taxpayers a great deal of money. 

Wallace also criticised how social media companies have left the police and law enforcement with the burden of repairing the damage done by radicalised content online.  The situation has become so severe that tax measures are currently being considered to make social media companies cooperate with the government. 

In a statement to the Sunday Times, Wallace explained the government's stance on the issue and the steps being considered to ensure that social media companies comply, saying: 

“Because of encryption and because of radicalisation, the cost of that 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.” 

As extremism has grown online, social media companies must take a more hands-on approach to help prevent its spread and if they are unwilling to do so, the government is ready to help incentivise the process. 

Image Credit: Easy Camera / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.