Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd will push US tech giants to step up efforts to tackle and remove extremist content online during a visit to Silicon Valley on Tuesday (1 August). At the newly created Global Forum to Counter Terrorism in San Francisco, Rudd will warn tech firms that extremists have exploited their platforms as a way to spread their "hateful messages".
Multiple executives of social media and internet service providers will attend the inaugural joint forum which was set up by Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google in June to counter the "critical challenge" posed by online terrorism.
"Terrorists and extremists have sought to misuse your platforms to spread their hateful messages," Rudd is expected to tell the tech executives, Reuters reports. "This Forum is a crucial way to start turning the tide."
UK lawmakers have urged internet companies to do more to tackle or remove online terrorist content in the wake of a series of terror attacks in Britain this year including the Westminister attack, the Manchester bombing and the London Bridge attacks. Rudd has also previously called for intelligence agencies and law enforcement to be given access to encrypted communications as well.
"The responsibility for tackling this threat at every level lies with both governments and with industry. We have a shared interest: we want to protect our citizens and keep the free and open internet we all love. Today's meeting of the Forum is the next step towards achieving these goals."
Following the deadly London Bridge attack in June, Prime Minister Theresa May called for closer regulation of the internet to "deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online." The UK and France have also been looking at plans to fine tech companies that fail to swiftly remove extremist or terrorist content.
Having drawn intense criticism over the past few months, social media companies and internet firms have vowed to do more to take on extremism and online hate through numerous initiatives "while respecting freedom of expression and privacy" as well.
Social media and internet giants say they want to help governments remove extremist or criminal material but that they also have to balance the demands of state security with the freedoms enshrined in democratic societies. However, tech firms have objected to demands from some governments to create so-called "backdoors" to access encrypted messages in services such as WhatsApp.
During the first workshop held by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism on Tuesday, tech executives, government representatives and NGOs will discuss "best practices about how to counter the threat of terrorist content online" and "substantially disrupt terrorists' ability to use the internet in furthering their causes, while also respecting human rights."
To achieve these goals, the firms said they would use technology, share knowledge and best practices as well as conduct and fund research.
"We believe that the best approach to tackling online terrorism is to collaborate with each other and with others outside the private sector, including civil society and government," they said.