UK: Google may have ‘broken law’ by failing to take down extremist material

IN-TERROR-NET Google may have ‘broken law’ by failing to take down extremist material

Government legal chief claimed disgraced web giant could be guilty of 'disseminating' material

By Steve Hawkes 21st March 2017, 11:42 pm  Updated: 22nd March 2017, 1:42 am

GOOGLE may have breached the Terrorism Act by failing to take down extremist material – a Government legal chief claimed yesterday.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland said the disgraced web giant could be guilty of “disseminating” material – breaking criminal law.

The powerful Tory told a cross-party Commons Committee: “I think the legislation is clear.

“It is my hope and expectation that these organisations will indeed come to heel and obey the law. But the law is there if necessary.”

He added: “It would be wrong of me to come to a firm conclusion without more information. But I hope I have made the point as clear as I can.”

The extraordinary comment the Government’s second most senior legal officer came as MPs accused ministers of letting Google, Facebook and Twitter off the hook when it came to tackling hate crime.

Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper said it defied belief that recruitment videos put up by banned far-right group National Action were still on YouTube, bought by Google a decade ago.

Home Office Minister Sarah Newton insisted Google had only issued a public apology over placing advertising next to extremist material after being “read the riot act” at a Whitehall summit last week.

And she said the Government ruled nothing out including legislation to make the web companies “clean up their act”.

Ms Newton said Ministers were studying “very carefully” a German draft law proposing £40 million fines if social media companies fail to take down hate videos within a 24 hour deadline.

She added: “We are not leaving anything off the table, they have been read the riot act and they need to step up and explain what they are going to do.”

But furious MPs said it appeared the Government “lacked teeth” and Google was only beginning to up its game in recent days after seeing a wave of advertisers shelve accounts with the US titan.

Google on Monday issued a stunning apology after Volkswagen, Tesco and Toyota joined 250 companies who have suspended deals with the company.

An investigation by The Times – the Sun’s sister newspaper – had found the companies promoted next to videos posted by hate preachers, rape apologists and homophobic extremists.

Separately yesterday Twitter said it had suspended more than 375,000 accounts for violations linked to the promotion of terrorism during the last six months of 2016.

Last week Google policy chief Peter Barron said the sheer volume of material uploaded to YouTube made it difficult to police.

And he admitted Google never proactively searched for terror or paedo content.

Ms Cooper said: “The Government banned National Action to stop them recruiting people to terrorist activity.

“Yet despite repeated complaints to Google, National Action’s illegal recruitment videos are still available on YouTube.

“We heard from the Minister that the Government asked YouTube to remove National Action videos — yet it appears that Google have completely ignored those requests.

“If this is true, then it seems that one of the richest companies on the planet is aiding and abetting illegal terrorist recruitment activity, and Ministers need to tell us what action they plan to take.”


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