back to article UK Prime Minister calls on internet big beasts to 'auto-takedown' terror pages within 2 HOURS

The UK's Prime Minister has once again raised the tech stakes in the fight against online terror, with her latest, er, bright idea being for internet giants to stop extremist content before it's even online. At a meeting with companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google today, Theresa May urged them to "develop …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

    Dunno about anyone else, but with 20th March 2019 looming every closer daily, I don't think the PRIME MINISTER of all people should be getting involved with frippery like this.

    And how will you deal with jihadi material which is photographs of Arabic, given the low value of foreign languages in the UK.

    1. ritey

      Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

      She always crawls back to security as a diversion tactic. It wouldn't surprise me if it was her handbag left on the M1 the other day.

    2. Stuart 22

      Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

      Funny how it must be done immediately or even earlier - if it someone else's responsibility.

      But when it comes to doing something herself (like set up the child abuse enquiry) - it takes years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

      I doubt that there's any real intention to actually do or have something done about this; it's just a no-lose announcement intended to make the Prime Sinister* look like she cares. When it doesn't work it won't be her fault but that of the tech industry.

      First rule of Politician Club: It's never your fault.

      * Yeah, I know it's a bit childish but it's a reminder to myself of her enthusiasm and desire for widespread and unrestricted domestic spying powers when Home Secretary.

      1. PNGuinn
        Mushroom

        Prime Sinister

        Superb.

        Thanks - I'm going to steal that, as often as possible.

        Think of it as an indigestion remedy, TM, PS. >>

        And do listen to Boris. He may be a clown but he's 20,000 times more capable than you are.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Prime Sinister" He may be a clown but he's 20,000 times more capable than you are."

          Funny, his Ministry reckon he's pretty lazy and not really too interested in his brief.

          IOW he likes the idea of being in charge as long as he doesn't have to do too much actual work, y'know, reading up on stuff and working out an opinion.

          But maybe that's just sour grapes from senior civil servants.

          Although he didn't see Gove had the knife out for him.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Prime Sinister

          >And do listen to Boris.

          I did and I cheered when he said, when interviewed over his Telegraph piece, that he would kill himself if the UK pays any money to the EU. This afternoon it was reported that cabinet sources say the T.May would make a generous cash offer to the EU - so perhaps they too wish to see if he keeps to his word...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

        @LeeE,

        First rule of Politician Club: It's never your fault.

        Just for the sake of argument, in this particular case, I wonder why anyone would think that the parlous and dreadful state of a lot of ghastly content on websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc is the fault of the politicians?

        Do you think they're the one's uploading it? Or do you think that it's merely a product of that small fuckwit section of in every society who are ill-bred enough to exploit the feeble and near useless sanitisation systems employed by the likes of Facebook, YouTube for their own perverted gratification?

        Hint: it's the latter. I agree that those two sets aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. But you know what I mean.

        First rule of Politician Club: do not get caught short on Law and Order.

        The poor response to the Madrid train bombings cost the sitting Spanish government the general election that followed soon after. They're not exactly doing well in the public eye after the recent outrage in Barcelona. We vote politicians in. We sure as hell vote them out at the first opportunity if the Law and Order system breaks down badly. That a politician's first rule; weakness = lost job, especially soon after a high profile incident.

        Turn it round the other way. Imagine if Theresa May said there was no problem with paedophilia, hate videos, extremist materials, bomb building instructions, etc being plastered all over YouTube/Twitter/Facebook/etc? Just how long do you think the government would last? Two weeks? If that? So of course she's going to say the opposite. Every politician worth their salt would do exactly the same.

        Arguably one might sustain the argument that the politicians should have seen this situation coming and never let companies like YouTube and Facebook be immune to prosecution. Bill Clinton in particular was stunningly naive.

        Had that law never been passed, the companies would have grown up insisting on stronger proof of user ID from the very beginning, so that blame for garbage content could be laid against the true perpetrator (the user) to protect the company. With that in place the user could be effectively barred (no more infinite short lived accounts), and if necessary prosecuted and jailed.

        Inevitability: However the genie is out of the bottle, and what we're seeing here is an attempt to put the genie back in its bottle.

        It's going to be difficult, but it has to happen; there's a high likelihood that the US presidential election was thrown thanks to crap on social media, and there's little to stop paedophilia being shared on Facebook groups (apparently) or similar. This shit really is not healthy for a settled society. Or at least we vote for and pay politicians to come to these decisions on our behalf. We can't really blame them if that's what they then go and do.

        If there's laws to be passed, that's the policians job to decide what they should be. Remember we voted for them specifically to do things like that on our behalf? However, it's not their job to solve how the companies should comply with any new law. That's the companies' problem.

        The Future? As it happens I think that we're inexorably moving towards a point where companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. can operate only under license (like normal telecoms providers have to), and the terms of that license will require the companies to know the true identity of their users to a standard suitable for use in a court. None of that means that our real names will be plastered all over the Twitter sphere; we'll still have stupid nicknames. Simply that the companies will have to be able to provide the real name of the user upon a request in the shape of a properly issued Warrant.

        This is effectively what China has done.

        I say this because it's pretty clear that today's technology is utterly incapable of filtering out the shit automatically. This is basically what the GCHQ chappie was saying. The change I feel coming on is the only answer we have to stopping the shit being uploaded in the first place; make it painful / expensive / jail-time for anyone uploading it in the first place. The technology isn't working; change the operating conditions instead.

        It'll probably mean an end to the freetard Internet (a financial transaction would probably be required as sufficient proof of ID). Again, not the governments problem, but it would involve a massive change in the business model of vast swathes of the Internet. For a start none of us would tolerate having to pay to use Facebook and also have them trawl through our identifiable information and sell that on to advertisers...

        If overseas companies try to provide a service from off-shore, they'll simply make it illegal to advertise on such a service. That would effectively be a formalisation of the YouTube boycott that sprung up recently.

        That's the way the wind is beginning to blow. The Internet companies that bend with that and adapt the quickest will be the ones that will continue to prosper.

        Economics: Given that ad funded Internet shit costs each and every tax payer in the UK something like £150 a year via the price of goods in the shops (something has to pay for the ads), a paid for ad free Google or Facebook service would likely save us money. £5 a year? Not a bad deal. And with the companies no longer having to have enormous bit barns to do all that advertising analytics they'd save a ton of cash too.

        1. Anonymous Blowhard

          Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

          @AC

          "As it happens I think that we're inexorably moving towards a point where companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. can operate only under license"

          Who's licence? America's, Russia's, North Korea's? China's got one, and it's enforced by their "Great Firewall"; is that what you want for every country?

        2. John Savard Silver badge

          Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

          "This is effectively what China has done"

          Well, yes, with one minor twist: China is a totalitarian dictatorship, so they use it to prevent people from debating the policies of their government, or even from practicing their religious faith in an authentic manner as opposed to within artificial imitation churches controlled by the government.

          Of course, the United Kingdom once forced its Roman Catholics to worship at churches operated by the Church of England instead, on the theory that this was "good enough", and so perhaps the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association may seem less unnatural and offensive in Britain than it does to countries with a strong tradition of religious liberty.

          It still hasn't returned all the church buildings and other properties seized by Henry VIII to their rightful owner, the Roman Catholic Church, which is still in business with its headquarters in Vatican City.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

            "It still hasn't returned all the church buildings and other properties seized by Henry VIII to their rightful owner, the Roman Catholic Church, which is still in business with its headquarters in Vatican City."

            Yeah, the church was "nationalised", so maybe it could be sold of to private inverters :-)

        3. shawnfromnh

          Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

          Spain nothing , what about that muslim London mayor that won't call the terrorist muslims when everyone knows they are. Is it because he is one and secretly doesn't care that the native population gets hurt at all because they are not muslims. Its all bullshit like in the US the cities that become muslim all want to switch to Sharia Law and everyone that isn't muslim can suck it. Its an invasion and everyone in charge is sticking their head in the sand and acting like its not.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

            That born-and-bred-in-London mayor of London? Luckily he's smart enough to steer clear of labelling terrorists by religion, coz that's exactly what they want. "Muslim terrorists" find it easier to get sympathy from fellow religionists, not least by playing the No True Scotsman card. Instead of focussing on the thing the terrorists have in common with him and 600,000 other Londoners Khan is keeping the focus on how they differ: they're murderous criminal bastard scum.

            Just which US cities are lining up for Sharia Law? As opposed to which cities have some idiot agitators engaged in virtue signalling...

      3. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

        Prime Sinister*

        Quite good - only really gets childish if it's overused, otherwise it's a humorous.

        I am reminded of Colin Baker as Doctor Who on trial on Galifrey, when he intentionally fudges the prosecutors title (Valyard) (barnyard, scrapyard...).

        I'd vary it, (Prime Misery, Prime Monkey...)

      4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

        Prime Sinister, not childish, kinda catchy : -) The Cruella DeVille comparison has been made already, 'Prime Sinister' is in the same vein.

      5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "Prime Sinister"* "First rule of Politician Club: It's never your fault."+

        * Nice. Especially as even she (somewhere inside that brain of hers) realizes she will never be able to appoint herself "Lord High Chancellor" as hoped. When she said she expected to carry on till the next election I LOL'd.

        You know the back benchers are already drawing the charges against her and Davis for their Crimes against Brexit. Jacob Rees Mogg is probably working on the first draft (along with his acceptance speech of new Tory leader).

        + Excellent point. A good rule that has served many of the spinally challenged members of the political classes.

    4. RayzorWire

      Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

      Probably plans to make up the government deficit from European trade by fining tech giants as much as possible...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

        jihadi material which is photographs of Arabic, given the low value of foreign languages in the UK.

        That's how you know it's bad - it's in foreign

    5. Christian Berger Silver badge

      It makes sense when looking at it from the other side...

      ... I mean such "Anti-Terror" laws are great for eliminating public outcry about other topics. The public in the UK probably should be on the street demanding better social systems and similar things. With those laws you can simply lock away people you don't like.

      This has been done in Germany already at the Anti-G20 protests in Hamburg. Just claim that protesters were violent, surround them so they cannot flee, then arrest them.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: It makes sense when looking at it from the other side...

        "This has been done in Germany already at the Anti-G20 protests in Hamburg. Just claim that protesters were violent, surround them so they cannot flee, then arrest them."

        In the UK it's called "kettling" and is a long standing tradition of the Police.

    6. scrubber

      Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

      What makes you think Arabic is a foreign language in the UK???

      1. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

        Arabic is a foreign language to those people in the UK who we could actually trust to think that terrorism is a bad thing which should be stopped. I mean, plenty of Muslims hate the terrorists just as much as everyone else, but if we could read people's minds, we wouldn't have a terrorism problem, would we?

    7. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

      Yeah, I'm just surprised that she has not banned the sale of Lidl carrier bags while she's at it.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Big Brother

        "I'm just surprised that she has not banned the sale of Lidl carrier bags while she's at it."

        Patience citizen, the Prime Sinister has only so many hours in the day.

        Rest assured it's on her list.

        <signed>

        Big Brother.

    8. An nonymous Cowerd
      Boffin

      Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

      Breaking news from ISO crypto too, NSA has withdrawn a few weak standards

      When the United States first introduced Simon and Speck as a proposed ISO standard in 2014, experts from several countries expressed reservations, said Shin’ichiro Matsuo, the head of the Japanese encryption delegation.

      Some delegates had no objection. Chris Mitchell, a member of the British delegation, said he supported Simon and Speck, noting that “no one has succeeded in breaking the algorithms.” He acknowledged, though, that after the Dual EC revelations, “trust, particularly for U.S. government participants in standardization, is now non-existent.”

      Trust, on the Internet-freedom vs. Terror balance also is tending to non-existent!

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

      Well observed. Probably this isn't about jihad at all. The word used is "extremist"; like ordinary people not doing what they are told and voting Brexit. It's hard to see this as anything but a push for censorship of political opinion, in the week when the leaders of Britain First were arrested on trumped-up charges when what they did was post a video and send out some leaflets. The censors all speak English. Arabic? Not hardly.

      In cases like this, we must always look at what the practical effect is, not what the claimed reason is. The practical effect is a system of censorship, at the discretion of the establishment, of material that they label "extremist". The latter term has no legal meaning, so can be applied as they see fit. How they see fit the leaders of Britain First can tell us.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Why not fuck off and sort out Brexit instead

        Yes. "Extremist" = Anyone who disagrees with the government.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    History repeats

    Stalin made all locksmiths and lock manufacturers register with the KGB to ensure that the population does not have access to a safe which would give the KGB search team hard time. The official reasoning was to ensure that thieves do not have access to high end tools to pick locks. This is an idea from the same songbook.

    It does not work - it affects the legitimate use(rs) and the ones that it is trying to hinder find a way around it.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: History repeats

      It does not work - it affects the legitimate use(rs) and the ones that it is trying to hinder find a way around it.

      I learned to pick locks entirely because my place of work replaced normal toilet-roll holders with ones in a locked enclosure so that no-one could steal the toilet rolls. I just wanted to be able to free the damn bog paper when it got caught up inside the stupid enclosure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: History repeats

        The toilet roll holders were probably replaced by the contract cleaning company, so that only they can replace the rolls. If you want them replaced more frequently, then you need a more expensive contract.

        When that happened in our place, we just broke the locks and put some duck-tape on. Our place was so cheap we were out of toilet paper by midday.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: History repeats

          The toilet roll holders were probably replaced by the contract cleaning company, so that only they can replace the rolls.

          We haven't outsourced our cleaning, putting the cleaners on worse terms and conditions. We're not complete arseholes.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: History repeats

            "We're not complete arseholes."

            That's good, or you'd need a LOT more bog roll!

  3. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "Mistakes will inevitably be made"...

    Yeah... you're making a huge one right now...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cuckoo

    that is all

  5. batfink
    Facepalm

    Yeah yeah yeah - the usual bollocks

    This strikes me as typical politician-speak.

    As all of us techos know, the first point is to define the requirements:

    - What, exactly, is this "stuff we don't like" that needs to be refused, and what are the criteria to be used to judge it before takedown?

    - How will we distinguish between stuff posted by "Us" (eg "Look what those nasty Russkies/Norks/etc are doing") and "Them" (eg "Look what those nasty infidels are doing")? Yes, I know that nasty propaganda pieces by either side should be taken down, but I'll lay money that's not how our gummints think...

    - What are the safeguards to be put in place, so this doesn't get quietly expanded into other "stuff we don't like", such as posts by subversive El Reg commentards?

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Yeah yeah yeah - the usual bollocks

      It strikes me as an authoritarian regime.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Yeah yeah yeah - the usual bollocks

      "Stuff we don't like"? Oh, that's easy. Set up the filters to remove any account with the word 'Conservative' in the name. The bot-writers make it look incredibly simple to identify pro or anti-Drumpf posts - just borrow their technology.

    3. PNGuinn
      Big Brother

      Re: Yeah yeah yeah - the usual bollocks @batfink

      Haven't you got it yet?

      Anyone who has the nerve to disagree with the Great Leader is an evil terrorist, guilty by definition of subversion, hate speech .....

      Must be neutralised, crushed, re-educated ...

      It's the only way to protect our freedoms, our children, our democracy ...

      >> PUKE<<

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Yeah yeah yeah - the usual bollocks @batfink

        It's the only way to protect our freedoms, our children, our democracy ...

        Is Lark Hill. The Wachovskis got it right with one mistake. They kept the Great Chancellor character from the comics as male.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Please start with all T May utterances

    because, by gum, she sure terrifies me. If she wasn't a woman she would be wearing a Joe Stalin moustache by now. She is not called the Pry Minister for nothing.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Please start with all T May utterances

      If she wasn't a woman she would be wearing a Joe Stalin moustache by now

      You never know. She may be shaving it.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "is it really unreasonable to ask them to apply the same techniques to keeping hateful content off the web?"

      Because, as you have already been told by a previous commenter on this thread :

      Before we get to the "how?". We need to define the "what?".

      Now, I am no algo-guru. But my money would be that no matter how many fancy algorithms you throw at it, the "what?" is never going to be something that you can entrust a computer to be able to do consistently without a high degree of false positives.

      Hence you are taken back to the realms of "human input". And the question of "who decides?", as already stated by another commenter further up this thread.

      You are trying to compare copyright protection to "undesirable content removal". Completely stupid comparison. Different kettle of fish. Being able to identify bootlegged soundtracks on Ewwtoob videos is a mere walk in the park.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      FAIL

      "YouTube can automatically and immediately classify a video"

      That's kind of the point, they can't do that reliably.

      They miss copyrighted material that's been warped slightly*, and on the other side of things, they flag up videos which aren't copyright infringing at all.

      Hell, humans have trouble categorising stuff as being about terrorists or freedom fighters**, how do you expect a machine to do any better?

      * (for starters, they don't even scan live streams, which is why you see streaming channels like this on youtube playing cartoons all day)

      ** It depends if you like them or not.

      1. Gnomalarta
        FAIL

        "This video is unavailable."

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "* (for starters, they don't even scan live streams, which is why you see streaming channels like this on youtube playing cartoons all day)"

        Something seems to be working because "This video is unavailable.". Geoblocking maybe?

    3. Just Enough
      Facepalm

      "If an internet giant like YouTube can..."

      Identifying a copyright movie, TV programme or song is completely different from identifying something that might be classified as terrorist content.

      No-one has a database off all possible things that a terrorist might say, and how. So unless we can get terrorists to adopt a theme song, by which they must start all videos, it's simply not that easy.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        @Justin Uff

        So unless we can get terrorists to adopt a theme song, by which they must start all videos, it's simply not that easy.

        That's an excellent idea - and 5 years in chokey if you issue a trrrrrrst video without the song. What should it be? YMCA? Bright side of Life? Sit on my face...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Even Better.....

          Perhaps we need to make all the terrs wear uniforms.... like Antifa.....

          The UK already has their bankers in bowler hats, along with uniformed school kids, bobbies and football teams.... why not make the terrorists wear a uniform too?

          It would make them much easier to pick out before the next atrocity.

          But I agree with the above posters, a theme song would also help.

          Prime Sinister May has certainly revved up the old idea machine with this one!

          1. Naselus

            Re: Even Better.....

            "Perhaps we need to make all the terrs wear uniforms.... like Antifa....."

            No, the solution is staring us in the face. If the pron filter already works, then we just need to convince the terrorists to make all their videos in the buff.

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