United Kingdom unveils extremist content blocking tool

15 February, 2018, 07:14 | Author: Terri Saunders
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According to them, numerous major tech companies have developed technology specific to their own platforms and have publicly reported on the difference this is making in their fight against terrorist content. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth/file) FILE - This is a Thursday March 23, 2017 file photo of Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd speaks during a vigil in Trafalgar Square, London.

The British government has unveiled a tool that it says can block extremist content on the Internet with reasonable accuracy.

Any content that the software is still unsure about would then be passed on for a human to review. "We're not going to rule out taking legislative action if we need to do it", Rudd said.

In Silicon Valley, the home secretary told the BBC the tool was made as a way to demonstrate that the government's demand for a clampdown on extremist activity was not unreasonable.

The government said that while larger platforms such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. have the resources to detect such extremism, smaller platforms don't. "So we're very keen that the tool is used as widely as possible".

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The tool is intended primarily to be used by smaller companies. Using advanced machine learning, it analyses the audio and visuals of a video to determine whether it could be ISIL propaganda. Even with a high degree of accuracy, critics say, there could be a lot of false positive when used with a major distributor of video content.

Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Google are pouring their own resources into solving this problem, but this tool is at first meant to be used by small companies, and they may one day be forced to use it. I have been impressed with their work so far following the launch of the Global Internet Forum to Counter-Terrorism, although there is still more to do, and I hope this new technology the Home Office has helped develop can support others to go further and faster.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, launched past year, brings together several governments including the U.S. and United Kingdom, and major internet firms like Facebook, Google, Twitter and others.

The government also faces a challenge in predicting which platforms terrorists will turn to next.

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