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UK threatens to tax big tech over extremist content

by on02 January 2018

Like that will ever happen

Over the holidays, the UK government started to talk big about taxing big tech companies which fail to tackle extremist content.

Outfits like the Beeb tutted that it was all part of the state putting pressure on big tech to pull its collective socks up.  Big Tech, such as Google amd Facebook have been on the PR backfoot lately and been an easy target for governments, particularly in the US, to blame for all their woes. 

So with the assurance that no one really trusts internet companies anymore,  security minister Ben Wallace felt a tax punishment for failing to deal with the threat of terrorism in the UK was a safe bet.

Wallace said firms such as Facebook, Google and YouTube were too slow to remove radical content online, forcing the government to act instead. While tech firms were "ruthless profiteers", governments were spending millions policing the web, he added.

Wallace said tech giants were failing to help prevent the radicalisation of people online.

"Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do", he claimed, "we're having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised. That's costing millions".

He said the refusal of messaging services - such as WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook - to give the security services access to message data was "turning the internet into an anarchic, violent space.

"Because of encryption and because of radicalisation, the cost of that is heaped on law enforcement agencies."

In short, Wallace is trying to blame the technology companies for kids being radicalised without looking at the causes of radicalisation.  There is an excellent reason for this.  Radicalisation, particularly of youth, comes from disaffected young people who feel shut efficiently out of society by decisions made by politicians. The UK is one of the most spied on nations in the world, and yet all that surveillance has failed to stop any radicalisation of youth.  More is unlikely to do anything.

Then there is the threat of taxing the big companies for failing to do what they are told.  For a start that is not going to encourage the big technology companies to do anything.  As far as they are concerned that will just be a business cost of doing business in the UK. They will pay up and not do anything.  Wallace has also forgotten his government is incredibly cowardly when it comes to taxing internet giants.  It has had its chance to hammer Google and Apple for the enormous amounts of back taxes those outfits own and instead backed down and did a deal instead.


Last modified on 02 January 2018
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