Security

British interior minister calls on Silicon Valley tech giants to fight terrorism

Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd is traveling to Silicon Valley, where she is expected to meet with leaders from firms such as YouTube, to discuss tackling extremist content online.

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Image: iStockphoto/zabelin

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd is traveling to Silicon Valley this week to meet with senior leaders at major tech firms to discuss ways to combat extremist content online, according to a Monday report from Reuters.

Rudd will meet with executives from firms like Alphabet's YouTube, along with leaders at US internet service providers (ISPs) as well. The purpose of the meeting is "tackling terrorist content available online," the report said, citing a person familiar with Rudd's plans.

Cyberterrorism has been growing in prevalence over the past few years, with extremists using the dark web to plan attacks and find resources. In 2011, The Independent reported that a well-known terrorist group had called for "cyber-jihad," and that these groups regularly use social media platforms to recruit new members.

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Rudd's meetings follow British Prime Minister Theresa May's call for stronger regulation of the internet to prevent terrorist attacks. May's comments came shortly after a violent attack killed seven people in Britain in June.

On their own, many tech companies have begun taking steps to combat extremism on their platforms. In a June 2017 blog post, Google said that it would work to identify extremist content and crack down on YouTube videos that "contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content."

The firm is using human experts in combination with artificial intelligence (AI) to find more of this offensive content. Additionally, it's using targeted advertising in hopes of redirecting potential Islamic State recruits to anti-terrorist videos, in an effort to change their minds about joining.

Facebook is another firm that is actively fighting terrorism online. The company declared that it is employing AI alongside counterterrorism experts to remove offensive content from its site. Facebook is also utilizing specialized training and partner programs to improve its effort.

Companies like Facebook and YouTube are facing a huge problem in online radicalization. And while the firms have taken the first steps to curbing it, some leaders have called for stronger measures. May, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, have launched a new program to combat cyberterrorism, planning to potentially fine companies if they fail in removing inflammatory content.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. British Home Secretary Amber Rudd is traveling to Silicon Valley to meet with tech executives to discuss ways to combat extremist content online, according to Reuters.
  2. British Prime Minister Theresa May, in June, called for stronger regulation of the internet to prevent terrorist attacks, following an attack in Britain.
  3. Firms like Facebook and Google have taken steps to prevent the spread of extremist content online, but some feel that more pressure must be put on these companies to stamp out online terrorism.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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