Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

UK Government May Force Tech Companies to Use Online 'Extremism' Filter

UK Government May Force Tech Companies to Use Online 'Extremism' Filter

The UK government has unveiled a tool it believes will accurately detect extremist content and block it from the internet.

The release of the tool comes as part of a two-day visit to San Francisco, by the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, where she is meeting tech firms as well as the US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, to discuss how the United Kingdom and US can work together to tackle terrorist content online.

According to them, numerous major tech companies have developed technology specific to their own platforms and have publicly reported on the difference this is making in their fight against terrorist content.

ASI Data Science, the company that worked in collaboration with UK Home Office, announced on its official Twitter handle that the accuracy of the algorithm is close to 99.9%. The government says that it can be integrated into the upload tool of any platform, meaning that videos can be blocked before they even make it online. "But I remain convinced that the best way to take real action, to have the best outcomes, is to have an industry-led forum like the one we've got".

Rudd is now on a visit to San Francisco where she is meeting with the main communication service providers in Silicon Valley to discuss tackling terrorist content online, while also meet with the US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to discuss how the United Kingdom and US can work together to keep the internet clear of extremism.

The new tool has been trained to spot extremist material using more than 1,000 ISIL videos. "So we're very keen that the tool is used as widely as possible".

While predominantly aimed at smaller companies without their own solutions to the problem, the government hasn't ruled out passing law to force businesses to use the software.

Amid growing pressure, Facebook, Twitter, Google and its unit YouTube past year created the Global Internet Forum to Combat Terrorism, which says it is committed to developing new content-detection technology, helping smaller companies combat extremism and promoting "counter-speech", content meant to blunt the impact of extremist material.

Ms Rudd is visiting Silicon Valley this week, where she will meet with United States tech firms to discuss the new model as well as other means of tackling terrorist content online.

The company said it typically flagged 0.005% of non-IS video uploads.

Separately, new Home Office analysis revealed that ISIS supporters used more than 400 unique online platforms to push out their poisonous material in 2017, highlighting the importance of technology that can be applied across different platforms.

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