back to article France and UK want to make web firms liable for users' content

Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron are planning to issue multi-million pound fines to technology companies that don’t act fast enough to remove material that governments and police forces disapprove of. The UK Prime Minister and her French counterpart are meeting in Paris today and, among other Brexit and security-related topics …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    'bout fecking time

    Google should be held liable for allowing Justin Bieber to show his videos on Youtube !!!!

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: 'bout fecking time

      If this measure passes, I wonder if Google could bring down the government by blocking all access to YouTube from the UK? The cat-prank-starved millions would be out on the streets within days (well, as soon as the Eastenders Omnibus was over, and as long as there isn't a Bake-Off slice of re-analysis still to watch).

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: 'bout fecking time

        Who knows.

        What it would do is make it very expensive to offer and collect revenue from a service in the UK with (effectively) anonymous user accounts.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'bout fecking time

        >I wonder if Google could bring down the government by blocking all access to YouTube from the UK?

        And nothing of value would be lost.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'bout fecking time

      Can we also ban content by Theresa May and Amber Rudd, because I find them both pretty extreme and offensive, all be told. As though, we should all have the narrow dimwitted middle class mindset of these pair.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    "Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron are planning to issue multi-million pound fines to technology companies that don’t act fast enough to remove material that governments and police forces disapprove of."

    Freedom of Speech, RIP.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      On the plus side, life will be so much calmer because we wouldn't hear of Yet Another Government Scandal. With people like Theresa May and Donald Trump, nobody presently gets any work done.

      Update: in the case of Theresa May, delete the work "done".

    2. The Bionic Man

      that THEY disapprove of? Isn't that everything the the parties in opposition say and do?

      I disapprove of big government, but I'm obviously in a minority.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        RE: that THEY disapprove of

        you do realise this is just a <font size = "massive flashing"> squirrel </font>. This is not big government - this is wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie government.

    3. Daggerchild Silver badge

      With Great Power YadaYadaYada...

      I would like to propose an addendum to the law. If Government is found to be misusing this power, the Prime Minister must donate a pint of blood within the week for each occurrence.

      Should we run out of Prime Minister, the requirement descends down the chain of command towards the individual who made the decision.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Freedom of Speech, RIP.

      Given that what they're actually talking about is already illegal (paedophilia, hate videos, etc), your rights aren't going to be infringed. Unless you think you should have the right to dabble in that kind of thing.

      The Register's article is disgracefully and lazily worded. Government and police don't and won't decide what's acceptable, the law does. And that is set by MPs voting on our behalf. So it's content that we as a population object to that's being talked about. It's what you have said should be illegal.

      1. IsJustabloke

        Freedom of Speech, RIP.


        "And that is set by MPs voting on our behalf."

        It's cute you believe that

      2. toxicdragon

        I am sorry to say but I am cynical enough to know that it wont just stop there, Yes it may start with the best of intentions but it will not be long before the government is saying "lets block X too because we cab"

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "The Register's article is disgracefully and lazily worded. Government and police don't and won't decide what's acceptable, the law does. And that is set by MPs voting on our behalf. So it's content that we as a population object to that's being talked about. It's what you have said should be illegal."

        You mean like the anti-terror laws, despite objections to the poor and wooly definition "will only be used to combat terrorism". Like Icelandic banks, parents applying for out of area schools with an incorrect home address or putting the wrong kind of rubbish in their bins? Those kind of terrorists?

        It's called "feature creep", you may have heard of it. It's designed-in to all modern legislation even if not actually a new phenomenon. Sometimes know as bloatware.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: The End Is Nigh

      successes with domestic spying laws

      Hmmm.. the niggle there is that we're not allowed to know the details of these "successes" other than the crumbs that occasionally fall from the government COBRA table - they're usually reported as "the Security Services foiling 37 terrorist plots this year". Is that true? Well who knows?

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: The End Is Nigh

        "foiling 37 terrorist plots"

        All three words are open to interpretation. I accept that security considerations mean that there can't be full and frank disclosure. Knowing that I assume that as reports get passed up the system they are massaged to put things in the best light. The final mouth piece just has to accept what they are told and probably believe it anyway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The End Is Nigh

          Given that quite a lot of these likely ended in prosecutions (planning, aiding, etc, all of which is illegal under current law), you can research what court cases there have been and what the verdicts were. They're public events, reported in the media.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: The End Is Nigh

            "you can research what court cases there have been and what the verdicts were. They're public events, reported in the media."

            I suggest you research before posting.

            Try "closed material procedure cases"

        2. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: The End Is Nigh

          All three words are open to interpretation

          I recall looking through the annual figures a few years ago, and noting that most of the terrorist plots foiled over the previous ten years were Irish ones and not Jihadist. But listen to any politician on the news and you'd be left with the impression that if it wasn't for the new legislation we all would have been killed in our beds by dagger-wielding suicide bombers.

          1. Vector

            Re: The End Is Nigh

            Every time I see a report like "number of terrorists plots foiled," I always think, yup, no lions here! My Anti-Lion device works perfectly!

    2. An nonymous Cowerd

      Re: The End Is Nigh

      adding further to my Bulk Personal Dataset, which must be several Terabuckets by now,

      look at this /obviously/false/ URL

      if website comments are banned then I would not be allowed to post /ludicrous/ claims like the link above,

      and we would all be happy.

  4. Whitter
    Thumb Down

    Trust first?

    'cos the UK state never misuses "terror-specific" powers (see section 44 et al).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Her response was condemned as “short sighted”..... "

    It's a government knee jerk policy, what else do you expect?

  6. lglethal Silver badge

    Just an idea...

    How about giving the police forces more money to hire more police to have more presence out there, and you know generate a bit of goodwill in the community so that the police get more tip-offs and have the resources to actually investigate people who are on their watch lists, rather then giving them new powers which they don't have the resources to utilise properly anyway and which brand everyone in the country as a potential criminal from the get go...(decreasing goodwill and all of those potential tip-offs which actually get people on the watch lists in the first place)...

    Funny how May got her draconian legislation through parliament whilst she was home secretary but she also cut the police force budget severely at the same time, so I really dont get her game. Give the police the powers to investigate everyone, but not enough resources to actually investigate anyone? That seems to be the direction Britain's going...

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "have more presence out there, and you know generate a bit of goodwill in the community"

      Living in the country that created the word "mafia", I assure you it won't work. Those tribal communities are very closed and have their own culture and rules, and one is they have to keep you outside - and nobody must talk to you, or they will face painful consequences. Tribal loyalty to the tribe, and fear of consequences, means very few will talk, no matter how nice you can be.

      You may try to infiltrate them in disguise (and it may not be easy), you won't change them with "goodwill" - they just think you're weak, and will laugh about you. Their dislike for government and police is deeply rooted, and you won't change it easily.

      Mafia clans and this kind of radicalized immigrants ghettos share many similarities - which also makes them very hard to investigate. You'd need to break the tribal ties, but it's very, very difficult, if not impossible. Those ties define them.

      It's very different from common crime, which usually has not the whole community support.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: "have more presence out there, and you know generate a bit of goodwill in the community"

        radicalized immigrants ghettos

        Yet strangely there have been a lot of tip-offs, so many that the police can't successfully investigate all of them.

        I think you must have had too much LDS in the sixties, LDS.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          I think you must have had too much LDS in the sixties, LDS.

          Actually it's those who thinks immigrants are also good pushers that believe "goodwill" alone will save the world, especially after they smoke something heavy. Meanwhile, being most upper class whites with more money than brain, will ensure they will stay in ghettoes - or nearby working class people, but far away from their ivory towers.

      2. Lars Silver badge

        Re: "have more presence out there, and you know generate a bit of goodwill in the community"

        @LDS, living in Sicily then, never mind, I suppose you meant Italy.

        I would not agree to the comparison with the Mafia. Quoting the Wiki.

        "A mafia is a type of organized crime syndicate whose primary activities are protection racketeering, the arbitration of disputes between criminals, and the organizing and oversight of illegal agreements and transactions.[1] Mafias often engage in secondary activities such as gambling, loan sharking, drug-trafficking, and fraud.".

        I short, money and not "extreme religion", or whatever it should be called.

        What many European countries has learned is to avoid as much as possible the forming of ghettos. Looking back to the USA, immigrants tended to settle in the same part of the town according to where they come from. Understandable but not such a good idea to day.

        When we accept immigrants we also have to accept some responsibility for them too.

        One thing I have learned over the years is that those immigrants have children who go to school and come out as citizens provided they are not put all in the same school, which again is a bad solution.

        When we Europeans emigrated to the USA we vent there, on the whole, with great expectations and energy. I have met quite a few immigrants like that in this country, eager to educate their kids, and working hard.

        Having listened to Brits sitting in their small towns complaining how shops and restaurants suddenly look "foreign" one has to ask the question, why don't those same people open shops and restaurants working long hours, instead of sitting on their arses, living on the state, and complaining.

        However, I am all for more community policing, and youth unemployment is a big problem too where affordable education would be a good help.

        And look at yourself, who could be more English than Boris, brought to you by a Turkish grandfather, and what about Lewis Hamilton, Granada I think, liked for good reasons (though).

        End rant.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          Re: "have more presence out there, and you know generate a bit of goodwill in the community"

          I live in the North, but in one of the place with a strong 'ndrangheta presence and influence. What happened is they re-created a whole community in a separate part of the town - up to they don't celebrate the saint patron of the town, but the one of the town the came from (most of them come from the same one). They obtained their own church, their own school, They actually never integrated truly. They don't share the area culture, they keep and propagate their own, because they can't accept it without denying themselves and accept they're the wrong ones.

          If you believe you can understand mafia from a wiki, good luck. Italian mafias are more than "organized crime", they are a cultural community first - a tribe - with its own rules. Not surprisingly it is split along families lines, fighting each others. refusing any rules but their own. That's why they are so strong and difficult to destroy. It has deep roots, beyond the pure reason to be criminal for profit. It's a way of living, and a way of being.

          A few days ago, people were "kissing hands" (a mafia symbol of respect and submission) of a mafia boss while he was being arrested and under the eyes of the policemen. It was also a way to tell police that they could have arrested him, but it was still the mafia ruling there.

          Many immigrants from areas where they still have strong tribal cultures act the same way. That's the mistake USA & C. did in Middle East and North Africa, and that's why after dictators were removed, instead of creating a democracy like Europe did in 1945, they simply started to fight tribal wars.

          Keep on denying it, and believe there is not a cultural issue that lead many immigrants who migrate just for money, not for values, to propagate in Europe their sectarianism and tribal "values", and you're just sitting over a bomb that will explode.

          Sure, you may have some that are better than others and may also help you, but they will still be a minority, and will be blamed by their communities. Multiculturalism just strengthens these "gated communities", and let then flourish.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Haku

    Now I remember what Theresa May looks like!

    Open up two web browsing windows and put them next to each other.

    In one do a google image search for: Theresa May open mouth

    In the other, google image search for: Salt Vampire

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Now I remember what Theresa May looks like!

      'Salt Vampire'

      - original Star Trek reference?

      'Sea Devil' works also - and is a nice 70's British reference point....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fine go ahead as long as we can make politicians liable for telling lies and imprison them for it.

  9. Dr_N Silver badge

    You all knew what she was like as Home Sec

    Yet plenty were willing to vote her in.

    Your bed. You lie in it.

    1. Haku

      Re: You all knew what she was like as Home Sec

      Unfortunately all of us who voted for someone other than her have to lie in the same bed :(

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: You all knew what she was like as Home Sec

        Then you weren't voting right!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You all knew what she was like as Home Sec

      Interestingly, this is exactly why Hillary Clinton wasn't elected. We knew what she was like already, and her re-branding couldn't overcome it. I can't say we improved our lot much with Trump, but were denied better options.


      A circumstance in which a choice must be made between two or more alternatives that seem equally undesirable.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You all knew what she was like as Home Sec

      >Yet plenty were willing to vote her in.

      The alternatives were no better.

    4. cyberdemon

      Re: Your Bed..

      Not my fscking bed! I never voted for her..

      (except once, in a referendum, but that doesn't count)

      Honestly, I think the only reason for Theresa May to have been on the 'remain' side of things, would have been to sabotage the campaign from the inside because she knew nobody liked her. Her entire agenda has been authoritarian from the get-go: even before the whole brexit thing was on the cards, May was campaigning to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, because she wanted to be able to detain people indefinitely without charge. I mean, we all thought Jacqui Smith was bad..

      This is the woman who gave us the National Crime Agency (not seen much about them lately, oddly enough) I wouldn't be at all surprised if, had May been elected last week, then she would be busy closing all regional police constabularies around the country and replacing them with a centralised NCA, with powers to do whatever they liked, to whomever they liked, with zero accountability.

      I didn't watch SS:GB, but it probably had a similar plot..

      We missed a collective bullet.

  10. DNTP

    'Supporting' terror

    I think it's appalling that large international companies are not held accountable for instruments that are fundamentally supporting terrorists and their activities. By 'fundamental support' of course I am referring to the widely known phenomenon of terrorists relying on ballock supporting undergarments during the commission of their nefarious activities, and the complicity of international garment retailers towards terrorism in the name of reckless profiteering. Intensive taxpayer funded analysis of undergarments indicates many of these items are even made in communist countries, or even locations with references to Sharia law in their legal codes such as Oklahoma.

    Naturally the appropriate response is to mandate 'back doors' in public garment privacy policy allowing government and police agents to inspect members of the public to ensure they are not using terror-associated testicular supports. Of course congressmen/ministers will be exempt from being 'backdoored' as half of them seem to be posting fruit+veggies on the internet all the time anyway (a wonderful model of government transparency IMO) and the other half are the sort that would permanently blind inspectors upon viewing.

  11. MrXavia

    Maybe with a few Tory rebels, and the opposition parties, we might be able to keep the worst of the spying laws away

  12. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    So what about false positives?

    Do the end user that has their content erased out of existence have any come back or rights to complain?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: So what about false positives?

      If your content was erased, you're clearly doing something wrong...

      ...and if not, the law can be adjusted accordingly.

  13. iron Silver badge

    Still today YouTube is showing illegal propaganda videos for the Conservative Party, an organisation with proven links to Irish terrorists and homophobic religious zealots the DUP. They don't even try to hide it! Young people might see these videos and be brain washed into voting Conservative.

    The sooner the government forces YouTube, Google and Facebook to remove these disgusting propaganda videos for the Conservative Party from the internet the better.

  14. Pat 11

    User Moderation

    The problem for FB etc is volume, their business model probably doesn't scale to employ enough moderators. The solution might be to incentivise users to moderate posts, perhaps in return for some kind of bonus like going ad-free. So you get a stream of random posts to check and in return for flagging up the odd thing for formal moderation, you get a nicer experience. Several mods would have to get the same material though so again it probably doesn't scale.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: User Moderation

      An interesting idea (quick - you should patent it!), not sure how well it fits with what most people use social networks for.

      Besides, if the content being moderated by a volunteer moderator is in fact illegal (e.g. paedophillia), they themselves are vulnerable to prosecution for downling said material. Facebook cannot confer the necessary legal protections on volunteer moderator users, only the Home Office can do that.

      For every carrot there is quite often a stick. Carrots are good, but alas there's a certain section of society who respond only to sticks, and they're the ones who are 99% of the problem, probably...

      However at the moment there is no stick, not really. Facebook users (and users of other social networks) are effectively invulnerable to consequences. Apart from the most extreme and unignorable cases where the limited resources of the companies and the police are actually deployed to find out who truly lies behind an IP address. The most that the company can do on its own is close an account, and perhaps report an IP address. Not much of a deterrent...

      The only way the companies can have a stick is to know the full legal ID of their users, something good enough for the Police / Courts to act on easily. This is no different to how the phone companies have to operate; you cannot get a SIM in most countries without showing verifiable ID or leaving a banking trace behind.

      That way there is a very real prospect of personal consequences for anyone posting illegal content, being criminally abusive towards another user, etc. That in turn might eliminate the bulk of the problem material. And then there'd be a much reduced need to moderate content.

      However, I can't see ad funded, data slurping services obtainable only when you've divulged actual hard legal proof of name/address being terribly popular with users. So it won't be profitable.

      Like it of loathe it, this kind of change in law across Europe has been brewing for sometime. The social networks and advocates have been desparately trying to say there is no problem, or that it's not their problem to solve, but at the end of the day its legislatures that decide that. By effectively ignoring legislatures / law enforcement / etc ["We have an AI" does not cut it], the social network companies have basically invited governments to reach their own conclusions about how things should go from here on in. This is a massive strategic error by the companies.

  15. Dr Fidget

    Stupid - but ...

    I know it's stupid, you know it's stupid, I'll bet even they know it's stupid but it keeps the Daily Mail/Sun/French equivalent readers happy because they're stupid

  16. Tikimon Silver badge

    Let's compare freedom vs terrorism!

    Clearly these government idiots can't recognize hypocrisy when they spew it. On the one hand, Germany (to pick one) wants to remove extremist and terrorist content from the internet. Simply keep people from ever hearing those horrible lies and they won't ever cause trouble. We have to stamp out these evil, violent people, protect our country from evil revolutionaries.

    Now substitute "North Korea" or "Iran" for Germany. However, when THEY censor, block, de-anonymize and punish people, it's evil oppression and violation of human rights. Guess what Europe? You're calling for the same oppression and using the very same excuses the nasty regimes do!

    I don't support the nasty views of terrible people. But my fair country began in just such a way. Extremists spread their views through media and meetings, radicalized the population and started a bloody revolution to overthrow the legitimate government. And later we named it the United States of America. Allow any form of government content control and it becomes a tool to use against whomever they feel threatened by.

    1. handleoclast
      Big Brother

      Re: Let's compare freedom vs terrorism!

      The pamphleteers of 250 years ago were the equivalents of today's political bloggers.

      Foremost amongst those pamphleteers was Thomas Paine.

      Paine called for revolution with his Common Sense at a time when Washington et al were saying they'd be satisfied with some degree of representation at Westminster and that none of them wanted a revolution.

      When Washington's army was encamped at McKonkey's Ferry with their morale broken, Paine's The American Crisis restored it. You may never have heard of it, but you may have encountered its opening phrase:

      These are the times that try men's souls

      Paine was the first to use the phrase "The United States of America."

      After that, Paine went to France to lend a hand with the French Revolution.

      With that underway, Paine came over to England to kick our government and mad king in the balls with The Rights of Man. About to face legal action over that, Paine was recalled to France to sort out the revolution that had gone wrong, before any legal action could be taken. His writings did manage to stir things up enough to cause some much-needed constitutional reform here.

      Paine called for the revolutionaries to spare the life of the deposed French king, knowing it would probably land him with a death sentence. It did. By a couple of bizarre strokes of luck, he managed to avoid that penalty.

      Sadly, Paine was excised from American history for his two-volume The Age of Reason. Which is still worth a read today. As is The Rights of Man. Common Sense, in language that sounds strange to modern ears and with much of it incomprehensible without historical context, is probably not worth the effort. All can be found over on Project Gutenberg.

      If somebody tried anything like that today, he'd be in Gitmo faster than Theresa May can change her mind about having a snap election.

      It is people like Paine that May hopes to quell with her control of the internet. People like Paine can bring down a government. Terrorists don't scare May. Bloggers scare May.

  17. Fan of Mr. Obvious

    Nice change of pace

    When I close my eyes and think about what it would be like to have the mind of a crazy person, this story fits the bill which is a nice change of pace, for me. I was getting really tired of all the political news being about the tard stuff the U.S. has been doing.

  18. TonyJ Silver badge

    This really is taking the piss.

    So known radicals, including one who went on a fucking television programme to tell the world his views and all of them already known to authorities would have been stopped if only Facebook and Google et al could be held accountable?

    1. William 3 Bronze badge

      Maybe the BBC should be held accountable as well.

      In fact, it absolutely should be held accountable.

  19. Boohoo4u


    Here you go, I copied it from a psychology website:

    The ego defence of displacement plays a role in scapegoating, in which uncomfortable feelings such as anger, frustration, envy, and guilt are displaced and projected onto another, often more vulnerable, person or group. The scapegoated target is then persecuted, providing the person doing the scapegoating not only with a conduit for his uncomfortable feelings, but also with pleasurable feelings of piety and self-righteous indignation. The creation of a villain necessarily implies that of a hero, even if both are purely fictional.


    On that note, the psychopaths (terrorists, etc.) are practically waving their arms on Facebook (etc) telling cops they're terrorists, then other people jump on and yell "I'm a terrorist too". Instead of using that, and tracking these nutjobs... authorities are upset they're to incompetent to use the information?

    Right, let's blame social media....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: scapegoating

      "let's blame social media"

      Definitely the fault of social media that guy was on TV, I think Twitter paid his cab fare to the set, YouTube sponsored his lunch and Facebook Messenger was used to check the cameras were working properly.

      Totally the fault of social media he was able to do that.

  20. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The tech companies are unlikely to employ more moderators just to appease the French and UK governments so instead they will just implement automated solutions so that as soon as something is reported, its taken down without ever being checked by a moderator, as they would rather stay on the safe side than get fines.

  21. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Fucking idiots.

    That is all.

  22. William 3 Bronze badge

    If you profit from what people post

    Then you have a responsibility to deal with what they post.

    It's really that simple. These companies can't simply wash their hands of it.

    And to all those claiming "freedom of speech" would be wise to remember that freedom of speech is related to criticism of the government, and does not give you carte blanche to say what the fuck you like on a private companies private server, especially when that private company is raking in billions in profits from said comments.

    No-one is intending to stop you virtue signalling about how bad poor white people are, how racist they are, and how terrible Men are, just to ensure you get your nice middle class Guardian points. Being a hypocritical sanctimonious twat isn't.

    Personally I believe that people getting upset the government is stamping down on people preaching actual hate (rather than then BS stuff you liberals get outraged about) should be prosecuted for being wankers. Alas, we live in a democracy and I wouldn't get enough votes to change the law.

    But if you genuinely believe we shouldn't try and stop nutters instigating terrorism on social media because it "upsets you", then you need genuine help.

  23. Mr Sceptical
    Black Helicopters

    Soylent Green is...mmmphhh!!

    Help, some goons in black are supressing me!

    People - it's people! Arggggh....!

    That't be the scenario if we really want to "remove material that governments and police forces disapprove of."

    SAD - as President Drumpf would say...

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