Tech companies promise to tackle extremist online content, but avoid encryption debate

midian182

Posts: 7,444   +67
Staff member

The aftermath of last week’s London terror attacks saw renewed calls from politicians for weakened online encryption, along with backdoors into services like WhatsApp. UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she would be meeting technology firms to discuss the matter, and while the companies have agreed to do more to tackle terrorist content, it appears that encryption wasn’t on the agenda.

In a joint statement, senior executives from Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft promised to “tackle this vital issue” of extremist material.

"Our companies are committed to making our platforms a hostile space for those who seek to do harm and we have been working on this issue for several years," the statement reads. "We share the Government's commitment to ensuring terrorists do not have a voice online."

Rudd said it was important to ensure organizations like WhatsApp don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other. “We need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp," she told the BBC.

There is no mention of encryption in the joint statement. The letter set out three ways to remove terrorists’ online content: the creation of better tools to identify and remove the material; helping other tech companies do the same, and supporting actions by "civil society organizations" that "promote alternative and counter-narratives."

Precise details, such as a plan of action and timelines, weren’t mentioned. Chair of the home affairs select committee, Yvette Cooper, said the outcome of the meeting was “a bit lame.”

“All the government and social media companies appear to have agreed is to discuss options for a possible forum in order to have more discussions,” said the MP.

The Guardian reports that Apple executives were not at the meeting, reportedly because it did not deal with the issue of encryption.

Rudd released her own statement following the meeting, in which she said she intends to tackle the issue of encryption “through further, separate discussions.”

“I am clear that government and industry need to work more closely together on this issue so that law enforcement and the intelligence agencies can get access to the data they need to keep us safe,” she said.

Permalink to story.

 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,289
I fully understand and can agree with politicians about this topic but as a law abiding citizen I wouldn't want my privacy violated willy nilly by somebody who thinks they have a bit of authority to snoop or just wants some entertainment. Authorities must have concrete proof to suspect someone about to, or have committed violent acts to gain access to their information. It's damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
 

psycros

Posts: 3,824   +4,980
Either everyone has the technology or only the bad guys do. How many times does this simple logic need to be repeated until its understood?
 

Greg S

Posts: 1,607   +442
Either everyone has the technology or only the bad guys do. How many times does this simple logic need to be repeated until its understood?

Indefinitely. People are delusional to think that laws are always followed.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,553   +3,949
People want a great app for communication that is completely anonymous.... then get angry when terrorists have a way of communicating anonymously... and yet, so few people see the paradox...
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,959   +1,147
People want a great app for communication that is completely anonymous.... then get angry when terrorists have a way of communicating anonymously... and yet, so few people see the paradox...

The only people I hear angry about encrypted communication apps are politicians; and they barely count as people sometimes.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,553   +3,949
The only people I hear angry about encrypted communication apps are politicians; and they barely count as people sometimes.
Maybe you should do some reading and watching TV.... these politicians have stirred up quite a lot of people who agree with them...

Remember, politicians rarely think of things on their own - their #1 goal is to get votes in order to be re-elected... So 99% of the time, if a politician wants something, it's because lots of other people want it too.