Google and some of the world’s biggest internet companies agreed last night to create new “technical tools to identify and remove terrorist propaganda” in the wake of the Westminster terrorist attacks.
The companies which also included Facebook and Twitter also agreed to look at "options" for a body “to accelerate” how they take down extremist content.
However they were criticised for paying “lip service” to the problem by failing to commit fully to setting up an industry body to tackle the problem.
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, summoned executives from Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft to a summit at the Home Office after the Westminster terrorist attacks last week.
After the meeting the companies agreed to “look at all options for structuring a forum to accelerate and strengthen” their work to tackle online extremism.
This would “enhance and broaden the current informal collaboration sessions that companies already conduct”.
They also agreed to share "expertise and experiences of more established" internet companies with younger internet businesses.
They said: "Working against terrorism is not a competitive issue within the industry and we pledge to engage the wider ecosystem of companies that face these challenges."
They also pledged to "support the efforts of civil society organisations to promote alternative and counter-narratives" against extremism online.
Last night MPs on the Home Affairs select committee, which has oversight of the Home Office, criticised Ms Rudd for not requiring the internet companies to do more.
Yvette Cooper, the committee’s chairman, said: “This is all a bit lame. All the Government and social media companies appear to have agreed is to discuss options for a possible forum in order to have more discussions.
“Having meetings about meetings just isn't good enough when there is still illegal terrorist recruitment propaganda up online. They need to get on with taking it down, and to say what resources they will put into doing this.
“Social media and the internet can be a fantastic force for immense good, but they also need to get their act together and stop the dangerous illegal poison spreading online."
Naz Shah, another Labour member of the committee, said that Ms Rudd had allowed the companies to pay “lip service” to the problem.
The “internet world is a parallel world to ours and there has to be some governance and some laws”, she said, and “just to say that they will develop some industry standards is absolutely not good enough”.
Ms Rudd called the meeting after last week’s Westminster attack sparked a furore over the companies' responsibilities to support counter-terrorism investigations and remove extremist content.
She welcomed the plans saying “it was a useful discussion and I’m glad to see that progress has been made”.
She added: “I said I wanted to see this tackled head-on and I welcome the commitment from the key players to set up a cross-industry forum that will help to do this. “In taking forward this work I’d like to see the industry to go further and faster in not only removing online terrorist content but stopping it going up in the first place.”
Ms Rudd raised the issue of encryption at the meeting and agreed to take it forward at a separate meeting.
She said: “I am clear that Government and industry need to work more closely together on this issue so that law enforcement and the intelligence agencies can get access to the data they need to keep us safe.”
Adrian Ajao, who killed four people including a policeman, sent a final message via WhatsApp three minutes before he launched his terrorist rampage.
Yet the US-based messaging company, which is owned by Facebook, has failed to hand over the contents of the communication, infuriating Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary.
Britain has no legal power to force WhatsApp to help investigators because it is based in America.