UK to unveil new tech to fight extremist content online

Amber Rudd

Britain partners with AI startup to bracket extremist content

But extremist content is only one type of objectionable content on the internet, with governments struggling to stem the flow of everything from child pornography to so-called fake news.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a tool that purports to detect and block jihadist content online, and tech companies may end up being legally required to use it.

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.

The tool, which has been developed by the Home Office and ASI Data Science, uses machine learning to analyse audio and imagery from a video to determine whether it has come from Daesh - also known as IS, ISIS, Islamic State etc.

Charlie Beckett, a media professor at the London School of Economics, said the government's announcement "exemplifies the "tools as solutions" problem".

Anything the software identifies as potential IS material would be flagged up for a human decision to be taken.

In a statement she said: "The goal of these videos is to incite violence in our communities, recruit people to their cause, and attempt to spread fear in our society".

"This government has been taking the lead worldwide in making sure that vile terrorist content is stamped out," she said.

The Home Secretary and US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen visited senior executives from leading venture capital firms, asking them to ensure the start-ups they invested in had taken appropriate anti-terrorist measures.

ASI Data Science said the software can be configured to detect 94% of IS video uploads.

Those behind the new tool did say that the majority of the larger tech firms already have teams in place working on similar strategies, and the Home Office said it would be targeting small platforms at first.

During her visit to the United States west coast, Rudd will discuss what companies are doing to develop methods that identify Daesh propaganda, and support smaller companies, such as Vimeo, Telegra.ph and pCloud to remove terrorist content from their platforms.

Ms. Rudd is now visiting the U.S.to meet tech companies and discuss the idea, as well as push other ideas aimed at tackling extremism.

She discussed the new anti-terror tool on her visit during talks with internet service providers in the country as part of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which was launched past year in the aftermath of the UK Parliament attack in March 2017. According to the Home Office, IS supporters used more than 400 unique online platforms to spread propaganda in 2017.

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