Minister warns web giants: Clear terror content or face tax punishments

Posted On: 
31st December 2017

Tech firms could be hit with tax punishments if they fail to deal with terror content online, a minister has warned.

The Government and the tech firms are in a battle over extremist content
PA Images

Security Minister Ben Wallace blasted “ruthless profiteers” like Facebook, Google and YouTube which he said are too slow to stop the spread of extremist content and leave the Government to pick up the tab.

“Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do, we’re having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

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“That’s costing millions. They can’t get away with that and we should look at all options, including tax.”

Mr Wallace issued an extra warning to messaging services like WhatsApp which refuse to share data with security chiefs handling terror investigations. He said they were "turning the internet into an anarchic violent space".

"Because of encryption and because of radicalisation, the cost of that is heaped on law enforcement agencies," Mr Wallace explained.

"If they continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivis­ing them or compen­sating for their inaction."

And he added: "We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers.

"They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government."

But tech firms have said they need more help and advice from government in dealing with extremist content on their platforms.