United Kingdom minister touts automated effort to combat extremism online

Posted February 15, 2018

The government in the United Kingdom has publicised its plans to roll out a tool that will be used in the detection of jihadist and extremist content, blocking it from being viewed. The tool was revealed Tuesday by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and will be presented to tech companies in Silicon Valley.

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.

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

"This government has been taking the lead worldwide in making sure that vile terrorist content is stamped out," she said. The government says that it can be integrated into the upload tool of any platform, meaning that videos can be blocked before they even make it online.

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The technology in question was created by the Home Office and ASI Data Science and uses machine learning artificial intelligence to analyse audio and video and determine whether it contains any extremist content.

Facebook is one of the platforms the government has been pestering to do more to combat online extremism. She did not rule out forcing technology companies to use it by law.

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. In September 2017, European political leaders said heavy fines would be in order for companies that didn't remove extremist content fast enough.

The tool is intended primarily to be used by smaller companies.

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The secretary said that past year, all of the five attacks on British soil had an online component.

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.

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

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