Britain should consider fining internet giants that fail to take down extremist content, a former GCHQ deputy director of intelligence and cyber operations has said.
Brian Lord said the current situation was “unsustainable” as the Manchester terror attack cast a fresh light on the challenge intelligence services face in tackling extremism online and through encrypted messaging apps.
Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has put security at the heart of her election campaign with a pledge to put pressure on social media firms such as Facebook and Twitter to target extremist measures online.
Mr Lord said: “I think when you have large organisations who provide ostensibly a public service to almost a quarter of the globe, I think those companies have to recognise that comes with a set of social responsibilities and not just an issue of profit.”
Common ground has to be found between the Government’s demands and what is feasible for providers to do, adding: “I don’t think the current position is sustainable.”
Ministers should consider a German-style system, where providers are fined millions of euros for failing to remove fake news from their sites, he said.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think we should consider it but as with all these issues, social media is here to stay and actually it’s just as incumbent on the organisations themselves to adjust their approach to this as well as the threat of fines.
“I don’t think it’s either one or the other.”
In the aftermath of the suicide bomb in Manchester, leaders of the G7 states, the US, UK, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, agreed a package of measures to step up the fight against terror.