George Odling — Daily Mail July 3, 2017
Theresa May has been compared to a Chinese dictator over her plans to fine companies such as Google and Facebook for hosting extremist material online.
Mrs May’s own counter-terrorism watchdog has blasted her decision to criminalise tech giants and suggested it is anti-democratic.
Technology firms, including Google, its video site YouTube and Facebook, have been accused of dragging their feet and failing to remove extremist material quickly.
The Prime Minister has promised action to punish them in the courts because of the number of cases where terrorists including ISIS-recruits and far-right supporters are radicalised online.
But Max Hill QC, the UK Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said: ‘What is the appropriate sanction? We do not live in China, where the internet simply goes dark for millions when government so decides. Our democratic society cannot be treated that way.’
Jihadist propaganda and terrorism how-to guides including how to make bombs can still be accessed online with just a few clicks.
Dangerous content, such as the videos Manchester bomber Salman Abedi reportedly used to help build the device that killed 22 people in May, could be driven underground by the move.
This could make prosecutions more difficult, the new independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation said.
Speaking at the Terrorism and Social Media conference in Swansea, he struggled to see how criminalising tech bosses who ‘don’t do enough’ would work, the Times reported.
‘How do we measure ‘enough’?’ he said.
Mrs May will see the comments as a damaging blow to proposals which were the centrepiece of the Government’s plans to combat the rise of extremism, a key element of her election pitch.
Technology firms have come under rising pressure to do more about jihadist propaganda and terrorism how-to guides that can be accessed online with just a few clicks.
The option of fining the companies was announced following three attacks in Britain in just ten weeks – the Manchester suicide bombing and the two atrocities in London.