French president Emmanuel Macron and current UK prime minister Theresa May have announced a joint initiative that will see tech companies penalised for failing to remove content.
Plans drawn up by the two premiers include exploring the possibility of creating a new legal liability for tech companies if they fail to remove content, which could see companies being fined for failing to take action against criminal and terrorist content.
“The counter-terrorism cooperation between British and French intelligence agencies is already strong, but president Macron and I agree that more should be done to tackle the terrorist threat online,” said May.
“In the UK we are already working with social media companies to halt the spread of extremist material and poisonous propaganda that is warping young minds.”
The prime minister and president Macron have also stressed the need for tech firms to urgently establish an industry-led forum, which was originally agreed at the G7 summit last month.
The two countries and their leaders want tech companies to work together to develop shared technical and policy solutions that will tackle terrorist content on the internet.
“Today I can announce that the UK and France will work together to encourage corporations to do more and abide by their social responsibility to step up their efforts to remove harmful content from their networks, including exploring the possibility of creating a new legal liability for tech companies if they fail to remove unacceptable content,” said May.
Theresa May has been criticised in the past for seeking to create a legal liability that could force tech companies to monitor all online activity.
“The kneejerk ‘blame the internet’ that comes after every act of terrorism is so blatant as to be embarrassing,” said Paul Bernal, a law lecturer at the University of East Anglia, in an interview with the Guardian.
However, despite concerns that her approach is heavy-handed, in announcing the possibility of creating a legal liability May remained as steadfast as ever.
“We are united in our total condemnation of terrorism and our commitment to stamp out this evil,” said May.