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Push internet companies to help smaller companies build their counter terrorism capabilities

Last updated: 12:04pm 17 January 2019

We will continue to push the internet companies to deliver on their commitments to develop technical tools to identify and remove terrorist propaganda, to help smaller companies build their capabilities and to provide support for civil society organisations to promote alternative and counter-narratives.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.79

Our verdict

The threat to UK citizens from terrorist acts was tragically underlined in 2017 with deadly attacks in London and the bombing of a pop concert at Manchester Arena. Many of the battles to prevent these types of atrocities have to take place online, and attempting to make the internet a terror-free zone can be a contentious issue. We want to feel safe, but what if that means restricting freedoms and infringing on rights?

This policy is about major internet companies helping smaller companies to assist with the UK’s counter terrorism strategy (CONTEST).

Soon after the June 2017 election, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) was launched, bringing together some of the major tech and internet giants with the stated aim of making their “consumer services hostile to terrorists”. It hopes to help smaller companies develop “technology and processes…to tackle terrorist and extremist content”, which is what the manifesto advocates.

The government can claim to have had a hand in the establishment of this group: a Twitter policy statement said GIFCT built on initiatives including “discussions with the UK government”, so that’s a persuasive argument for a positive verdict here.

This is also only a pledge for the government to “continue” doing something, which means unless it is explicitly dropped from their plans, or unless we find evidence it is not being continued, we consider the promise to have been kept. GIFCT is evidence of an ongoing effort to meet the objective, so we’re rating this policy as ‘done’. We’ll continue monitoring, and you can follow this policy for updates.

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