British minister asks Silicon Valley to do more to counter militants

Britain’s interior minister will use a visit to Silicon Valley on Tuesday to ask Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube to step up efforts to counter or remove content that incites militants.

After four militant attacks in Britain that killed 36 people this year, senior ministers have repeatedly demanded that internet companies do more to suppress extremist content and allow access to encrypted communications.

In the face of resistance from the industry, Prime Minister Theresa May – a former interior minister – proposed trying to regulate cyberspace after a deadly attack on London Bridge in June.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd will meet executives of social media and internet service providers in San Francisco at the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, whose partners are Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft and Twitter.

The forum was set up to coordinate the companies’ efforts on removing militant content.

“Terrorists and extremists have sought to misuse your platforms… This Forum is a crucial way to start turning the tide,” Rudd will say, according to a statement from the interior ministry.

“The responsibility for tackling this threat at every level lies with both governments and with industry.”

A source familiar with Rudd’s trip said she had scheduled a meeting with representatives of YouTube, Alphabet’s video sharing platform. She met Facebook, which owns messaging platform WhatsApp, on Monday, the company said.

The industry says it wants to help governments remove extremist or criminal material but also has to balance the demands of state security with the freedoms enshrined in democratic societies.

“Our mission is to substantially disrupt terrorists’ ability to use the Internet in furthering their causes, while also respecting human rights,” Twitter said in a statement.

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