Flight Against Terrorism

To Combat Terror, UK Govt. Fights With Tech Companies


The world is on its way to fight terror as recently the governments are seen battling with top technology companies to make a decision on the future of internet since it’s something very important. The UK government is presently fighting with tech companies, forcing them to delete content at their will. According to the government, this power is necessary to use for counter-extremism projects but at the same time experts say, it will enable censorship and eventually put people at a great risk of attack. And the outcome of the fight is supposed to be profound while countries across the globe are supporting the UK in its decision to scan what’s published online.

In the previous years, the government has concentrated on eliminating the ability to talk about or spread radical propaganda from the web. At first, when the UK PM Theresa May was home secretary, tried to prevent technology companies from using strong encryption so that intelligence agencies could read and scan all the messages received or sent online. However, the tech companies refused to do so arguing that they can’t remove the security immediately only for terrorists. The heated arguments cause the UK government to instead focus on terrorist content and ignore delivery tools employed to extend that content. Therefore the government’s focus shifted from messaging applications such as Whatsapp and Apple to the social media & tech companies like YouTube and Facebook.

The climbdown has occurred silently but it had some main flashpoints. After San Bernardino attack that took place in 2015, the United States govt. forced Apple Company to break into a phone to check messages from it, but the company denied and pursued legal recourse.

That clash took place in the US but it was watched world widely. It showed that it’s impossible to make a decision in isolation. Though the UK government has pursued far more forceful and intrusive snooping powers to tackle the terror than any other govt. For example, European courts seemed quite happy about applying regulation to the technology companies, forcing a number of fresh decisions on to them which includes “right to be forgotten” that compelled tech companies to delete old and unnecessary information about people.

Where the United States that is popularized allowing its technology giants huge freedom is now shunning the idea of social justice by giving green signals to limit what’s published online. Experts of the industry warn as they foresee the powerfully global nature of such regulation. Experts believe that it would become a race to the bottom, once a govt. does something like this and the tech companies would need international governance and agreement as any kind of difference in regulations can compel the companies acting illegally in a country or the other.

The predictions about the UK was made in the 2017 Conservative manifesto that suggests that it would become a global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and internet and it has come true. The interventions in tech regulations and snooping by the UK government is a kind of model that encouraging other countries to do so. The UK Investigatory Powers Act recognized to comprise some of the widest spying powers anywhere and made it a law.

The Prime Minister of UK believes that technology companies should do something to get rid of content from the internet. There are some internet companies that are acting at their level to tackle terror and publishing their work such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Google and YouTube introduced the Global Internet Forum to fight terrorism. This forum is created to assist new tech companies to make solutions or tools to detect bad content and then pass those findings to smaller companies.

Google, the tech giant has been working on counter-speech work that intervenes before people have actually been radicalized and it tries to change people’s mind whenever they begin searching for example, when a person is looking for terrorist content or propaganda by typing “how to join ISIS”, the search-engine intervenes with content intended to change his mind. The company also has given out Adwords grants to NGOs so that they can buy it and use ads on problematic searches for free.