The British government has funded the development of an online “extremism” filter which technology firms could be legally compelled to use, the Home Secretary has revealed.
Amber Rudd and the Home Office say the newly released technology will help fight terrorism; however, the prospect of all the UK’s internet content being filtered through government-approved artificial intelligence has raised concerns around online freedom.
The government gave £600,000 of public funds to the London based ASI Data Science to produce the software, which they say can detect 94 per cent of Islamic State’s online activity with an accuracy of 99.995 per cent.
“The tool can be used by any platform, and integrated into the upload process, so that the majority of video propaganda is stopped before it ever reaches the Internet,” the Home Office added in a statement.
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) February 13, 2018
“We know that automatic technology like this, can heavily disrupt the terrorists’ actions, as well as prevent people from ever being exposed to these horrific images,” Ms. Rudd said.
“This Government has been taking the lead worldwide in making sure that vile terrorist content is stamped out.”
Ms. Rudd is currently visiting the U.S. to meet tech companies and discuss the idea, as well as push other ideas aimed at tackling extremism.
Since her time as Prime Minister, Theresa May has been open about her ambition to “regulate” the Internet and introduce a so-called “snooper’s charter“.
The Tories’ general election manifesto from last year included the policy, and senior members of the party confirmed they aim to control what people can post, share, and publish online.
This is a problem the tech giants can't solve alone! Even if they blocked all terror content on their site, Home Office research shows over 400 smaller platforms were used in 2017. That’s why we are making our software free for any online site that needs it #TechAgainstTerror
— ASI Data Science (@ASIDataScience) February 13, 2018
The manifesto also said they aim and force Internet companies into keep records on their customers’ browsing histories and make conversations in encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp accessible to authorities.
The plans would allow Britain to become “the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet”, the manifesto claimed, and ensure there is no “safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online”.
Just last month, Mrs. May agreed to the creation of a so-called “rapid response” government unit to fight perceived fake news online, so content they disapprove of can be expunged from the Internet.