I’m sure you’ve heard about James Comey, FBI director, is concerned about how encryption form Apple and Google jeopardize their investigations and how companies like those shouldn’t encrypt data so that government agencies can’t get their hands on them. Apple and Google have responded by saying that data will indeed be available to government agencies, but only if they have the proper warrants and the user they are trying to get data from is notified beforehand. While this might not be the best approach from companies, it does sit better with users. It seems that the UK is having similar concerns, and Facebook, Youtube and Twitter will all have to comply with new UK laws that say that they should hand over data from extremists’ like ISIS members automatically, without warrants or the like.
UK law enforcement wants better access to data collected by Facebook and other social media sites, and want to get their hands on IP addresses, e-mails, usernames and full names of people who are posting illegal content. The UK government will be asking Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to start handing over data of suspected extremists to the government, starting this week. Supposedly, people who are posting propaganda, violent and threatening content, as well as suspicious content should be monitored by Facebook and Co. and as soon as they post something illegal, all their data should be sent to the UK government. Specifics of the new policy will be discussed with companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft at a meeting with Downing Street policy chiefs.
The UK government said that content Facebook and co. should look out for includes bomb-making instructions, direct calls to launch terror attacks, inflammatory videos, photos and texts and radical posts. According to the UK government, this type of content can easily reach Facebook users who are British Muslims and might make them vulnerable to radicalization. Facebook has been monitoring these types of illegal content for a long time now, and you probably won’t see many bomb-making instructions popping up in your Facebook newsfeed, but it seems that is not enough for the government, who need all the data on suspicious users. So far, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube would not hand out personal information to government agencies unless they proved that the users were involved in ongoing investigations and had a warrant for the info they requested.
The social media crisis the UK is talking about is mainly brought on by evidence that the notorious ISIS group has been using Facebook, Youtube and Twitter to spread propaganda and recruit members for their cause. With dozens of terrorist attacks taking place almost daily in Syria and Iraq, most of which perpetrated by ISIS members and suicide bombers, the recent concern about what people can access via social media is well-founded. Although Facebook and co don’t allow the distribution of inflammatory and illegal materials, now they will have to send the materials and the information of their originators straight to the police once they find them. Although Facebook and co are fearful that their image would be damaged if they automatically handed over sensitive information to authorities, there might be no way out of this.