United Kingdom govt unveils software to counteract online extremism

UK government announces tool to detect and block extremist videos

Speaking to the BBC, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that she hasn't ruled out the possibility of forcing tech companies to use their technology.

The technology works by analyzing video content during the upload process, preventing it from reaching the internet in the first place - a vast improvement on the average 36 hours it takes tech firms to remove extremist content, and an improvement still on the two-hour-limit the United Kingdom government demanded past year.

Earlier in the day, the Home Office announced it had given London-based AI company ASI Data Science £600,000 to create software to automatically detect and block jihadist content from websites. This is versus the 36 hours or so which is apparently the average time it takes for tech firms to remove such content, which by then would have easily spread to hundreds, if not thousands of viewers.

Rudd will visit Silicon Valley this week to discuss the technology and "hold a series of meetings with the main communication service providers to discuss tackling terrorist content online".

The tool was made as a way to demonstrate that the government's demand for a clampdown on extremist activity was not unreasonable, Rudd said.




Facebook is one of the platforms the government has been pestering to do more to combat online extremism. It says that the system uses advanced machine learning to analyze the sound and visual components of videos for "subtle signals". There are tools out there that can do exactly what we're asking for. Rudd said she was keen for social media companies to adopt similar automated approaches to speed up the removal of terrorist content online. "For smaller companies, this could be ideal".

But smaller platforms are increasingly targeted by ISIS and its supporters and they often do not have the same level of resources to develop technology.

The secretary said that previous year, all of the five attacks on British soil had an online component. New Home Office research shows that 145 new platforms from July until the end of 2017 had not been used for terrorist content before.

However, the bigger challenge is predicting which parts of the internet the terrorists will use next.

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