Government vows ‘pressure’ on tech firms in fight against extremism

Pressure will be heaped on social media giants to do more to tackle online extremism, Security Minister Ben Wallace has said.

Mr Wallace, who helped lead the Government’s response to the Manchester bombings, hit out at tech companies whose data encryption allow terrorist cells to communicate under the radar and condemned firms for selling users’ data to dubious firms.

Ministers would be prepared to get tough with internet firms through measures such as law changes or financial pressures, he told Radio 5Live’s Pienaar’s Politics.

Asked about the kind of sanctions, he said: “We are open to all the measures.”

Mr Wallace went on: “I think the answer is we will be putting pressure on them.

“I’m not going to sit here and pick off the top of my head whether that would be through financial or legal ways but we think they can do more, they have the money to do more and some companies do do more.

“This is not every single company, some companies are absolutely engaged.”

The intervention comes as both main parties put security at the heart of their election campaigns in response to the deadly Manchester bombing.

Twenty-two people were killed and dozens seriously injured when a bomb was detonated, as fans left an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night.

Mr Wallace expressed frustration over encrypted messaging apps in the fight against terror, saying : “The challenge is not that we are not getting information from the streets.

“The challenge is the sheer scale of what we are getting and the growth of it and at the same time when we need to follow up that information, the encryption that is out there and the technology makes it very, very hard to follow it up.”

Repeated leaks to US media of information about the terror attack, including crime scene pictures, have been condemned as “unacceptable” by the Prime Minister and senior ministers, he said.

However he said intelligence sharing would continue between both nations after assurances were given by US counterparts to senior counter terrorism officers.

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