Tech firms face fines over “extremist” content under joint UK-France plan

Social media giants and technology firms could face new penalties for extremist content under new plans being considered by the British and French governments.

Prime Minister Theresa May is visiting French President Emmanuel Macron tomorrow, and the pair are set to announce a joint crackdown.

May and Macron are set to discuss their country’s respective approaches to counter-terrorism, with possible moves including a new legal liability for technology companies hosting extremist content.

It could see the likes of Twitter, Google or Facebook fined for failing to take action, with both governments calling on businesses to develop tools to identify and remove content automatically.

Read More: May’s assault on the internet serves only to make us more vulnerable

May and Macron will also urge firms to create an industry-led forum to develop technical and policy solutions to tackle extremist content.

Speaking ahead of her Paris trip, May said: “The counter-terrorism cooperation between British and French intelligence agencies is already strong, but President Macron and I agree that more should be done to tackle the terrorist threat online.”

The proposals for fines goes beyond proposals in the Conservative manifesto, which committed the party to pushing firms to improve tools to remove content.

And after the London Bridge attack, May put tech giants in the spotlight as she declared “things must change” in the UK’s counter-terrorism planning.

Responding to May’s announcement, Twitter UK head of public policy, Nick Pickles said: “Terrorist content has no place on Twitter. We continue to expand the use of technology as part of a systematic approach to removing this type of content.

“We will never stop working to stay one step ahead and will continue to engage with our partners across industry, government, civil society and academia.”

Facebook, Twitter and Google already face fines for fake news and hate speech under German law proposals.

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