At UN, Britain to push Internet firms to remove extremist content quicker

British Prime Minister Theresa May will raise the issue at an event on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 20 September 2017
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At UN, Britain to push Internet firms to remove extremist content quicker

UNITED NATIONS: The leaders of Britain, France and Italy will push social media companies on Wednesday to remove “terrorist content” from the Internet within one to two hours of it appearing because they say that is the period when most material is spread.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will raise the issue at an event on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.
Twitter Inc, Facebook Inc, Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc’s Google are among the companies due to attend, the British UN mission said. The European Union has threatened legislation if they do not step up efforts to police what is available on the web.
The British UN mission said May will welcome progress, but urge companies to go “further and faster” to stop groups like Islamic State spreading material that promotes extremism or shows how to make bombs or attack pedestrians with vehicles.
“Terrorist groups are aware that links to their propaganda are being removed more quickly, and are placing a greater emphasis on disseminating content at speed in order to stay ahead,” May plans to tell the event.
“Industry needs to go further and faster in automating the detection and removal of terrorist content online, and developing technological solutions which prevent it being uploaded in the first place,” she will say.
Responding to pressure from governments in Europe and the United States after a spate of militant attacks, key firms created the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism in June to share technical solutions for removing extremist content and work more with counter-terrorism experts.
Twitter said it had removed 299,649 accounts in the first half of this year for the “promotion of terrorism,” a 20 percent decline from the previous six months, although it gave no reason for the drop. Three-quarters of those accounts were suspended before posting their first tweet.
May said ahead of Wednesday’s event: “We need a fundamental shift in the scale and nature of our response – both from industry and governments – if we are to match the evolving nature of terrorists’ use of the Internet.”


Egypt targets social media with new law

Updated 17 July 2018
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Egypt targets social media with new law

  • Social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets
  • The media council will supervise the law and take action against violations

CAIRO: Egypt’s parliament has passed a law giving the state powers to block social media accounts and penalize journalists held to be publishing fake news.
Under the law passed on Monday social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.
The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, will supervise the law and take action against violations.
The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors.
The law, which takes effect after it is ratified by El-Sisi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further.
Supporters of El-Sisi say the law is intended to safeguard freedom of expression and it was approved after consultations with judicial experts and journalists.
But critics say it will give legal basis to measures the government has been taking to crack down on dissent and extend its control over social media.
Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the vague wording of the law allows authorities to interpret violations and control the media.
“That power of interpretation has been a constant powerful legal and executive tool that was used to justify excessive aggressive and exceptional measures to go after journalists,” he told Reuters.
Hundreds of news sites and blogs have been blocked in recent months and around a dozen people have been arrested this year and charged with publishing false news, many of them journalists or prominent government critics.