Tech firms accused of hosting extremist materials – Zeppelin IT takes a look and examines what this means for other internet based firms

Written by Chris Davis – Zeppelin IT

Over the course of the last 7 days Zeppelin IT have had sent to our inbox several emails regarding internet sites that host extremist materials in one form or another. We received the first one on Monday 27th March we continued to receive these updates from various newspapers and news websites from around the world. By Wednesday curiosity had gotten the better of us and we decided that we simply couldn’t stand by and not take the opportunity to look into this especially when some of the claims made by some of the news papers said just how easy it was to find online a very accurate way in which to stab someone and achieve results the were extremely effective in achieving the desired results. We took a look at several of these articles which you can find below from various different sources.

ARTICLE 1 – Written by Kate Devlin for Herald Scotland

Although this is a short article and can be found here at Herald Scotland website this just of it has been that our current prime minister Theresa May has asked tech giants such as Google to tackle the level of hate material that is available through its search engines. Due to its current stance on material hosted on its site Google has recently found its self coming under fire from advertising firms after they found that their content had been found along side extremist material. Google hit back at this with a statement about it (itself) was going fast track an their ongoing review of the issue and offered an apology.

The article goes on further to say that social media companies must also take a responsibly as well when it come to this kind of material, search engines and social media platforms must work along side intelligence firms in order to create the joint effort that is required to overcome modern forms of terrorism.
ARTICLE 2 – Written by Chris Green for i-Newspaper

Zeppelin IT was sent a link to this article on Monday just after it was sent to press. We have read the article and we must say it makes very good reading and it continues to divide opinions about what security forces should and shouldn’t have access too. The article from i-Newspaper which can be seen here on the i-Newspaper website looks at what our Home Secretary Amber Rudd believes should be going on when it comes to tech firms and social media platforms and just how they should be dealing with extremist materials.

In the wake of last weeks devastating terrorist attack on Parliament Amber Rudd has said that she wants to make a significant crack down on social media and web search platforms that use encryption methods as a way to prevent users data from being seen by anyone else but the user that it was destined to be seen by (a bit like a text message only in theory gets seen by the person that the original sender intended). Amber Rudd is reported to have said on BBC’s Andrew Marr show that intelligence services used be able to go about their business legally (not to say they do anything illegal now) through warrants and the other channels that day would have had open too them, as a result of encryption though intelligence services have found themselves on the back foot s it means that the data in a message can only be seen by the end user/ the person that it was intended for.

This article goes on to say that Westminster killer Kahlid Masood has used encrypted social media channel WhatsApp moments before launching his violent and unprovoked attack on Westminster. WhatsApp uses end to end encryption (insert definition of end to end encryption), it is this level of encryption that both Theresa May and Amber Rudd both want to to tackle as this article reports that Rudd wishes to see a back door built into this encryption by service providers that would allow security forces to view messages when they feel that they are required to intervene to possibly prevent a terrorist attack or to gather intelligence on a terrorist group.

ARTICLE 3 – Written by George Parker Canberra and Murad Ahmed London (2014)

Back in 2014 writers for the Financial Times (FT) were reporting that something was going to happen to the way that social media and search engines would show results for searches would change – this was under David Cameron’s run as prime minister. Cameron in this article is reported to have said that Britain will be doing more to reduce the level of jihadist material that is freely available online through search engines as well as social media platforms such as Twitter Facebook and WhatsApp. At the time of writing Google and Twitter had declined to make any comments. The article goes on to further say that the UK’s counter terrorism team removes more than 1000 pieces of content that breach terrorism acts laid out in 2006. 80% of this content is related to Syria and Iraq and to make things even harder for intelligence firms many of these articles are posted over many sites.

As you can see from the various articles that we have looked at there are many issue that are raised about what the best way to combat cyber terrorism and online terrorist materials is. The main consensus seems to be that there should be more transparency from search engines and social media platforms on how they show their results for what a user search for. It is also clear that many of the views shared by the articles is that the internet should have a back-door that allows intelligence agencies to be able to check on suspected terrorists and their activities in particular those web platforms that use any type of encryption.

After looking at the various points that have been made from the wide range of articles that we have looked at form a wide variety of sources Zeppelin have to agree with many of the points that have been made in these articles that intelligence firms are working very hard to combat online terrorism and there are several things that social media platforms and web search search engines could do to make their jobs easier. We can safely say that although it could be possible for some web continent to be displayed alongside some of this undesirable content and may damage a brands image the content of a well optimised page shouldn’t be displayed along side this content. Good search engine optimisation would produce time and time again good results that mean web content would appear in places that company managers would want to see it and would like to have associated with their brand and its image.

If you would like to see your website along side other desirable content then you should look into getting your website engineered to be search engine friendly with good search engine optimisation, give Zeppelin IT a call and we will be more than happy to talk to you about how we can do this for you and for your brand image.

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