Theresa May warns internet giants over extremist material

Faisal Islam, Political Editor, in Riyadh

Theresa May has warned internet giants they are failing to deal with the scourge of online extremist material.

Speaking to reporters on her trip to the Middle East, Mrs May was asked specifically about Google and its YouTube video sharing service.

The Prime Minister said some progress had been made in tackling terror and hate being spread in cyberspace, but more must be done.

Mrs May said: "We continue to talk to the companies. The Home Secretary met them last week.

"We think that there is more that they could and should be doing and we will be continuing to encourage them to do more."

She said approximately 250,000 pieces of material have been taken down from the internet through the counterterrorism internet referral unit since 2010.

Mrs May added: "The Government has already spent quite a lot of time talking with the companies about what they can do and what we think they should be doing. They have made some progress.

"I think it's very important that we do see action from the companies.

"We will continue to press them to make sure, because as we know, material on the internet can have an impact when it is seen by other people."

In the wake of the Westminster terror attack last month, Home Secretary Amber Rudd met with Google, Twitter, and Facebook to discuss the amount of extremist material on the sites.

Speaking to Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Ms Rudd warned the firms would "get a lot more than a ticking off" and insisted social media companies must do more as part of the drive to combat terrorism.

Ms Rudd also called for encrypted networks to build "back doors" into their system so terrorists' messages can be accessed during investigations.

Her comments came after it emerged that Westminster attacker Khalid Masood sent an encrypted message via WhatsApp just minutes before his murderous assault.

While in Riyadh, Mrs May has also held talks with Saudi security officials and ministers about the shared problem of so-called "foreign fighters" returning from fighting for Islamic State in Syria.

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