Theresa May wants terrorist material on the web removed in two hours

Theresa May will urge internet companies to do more to prevent the spreading of terrorist material at the UN General Assembly in New York today.

May believes internet firms can do more to stop the spread of material which promotes terrorism, provides information on how to make bombs or how to attack pedestrians with vehicles.

She will underline she wants them to "develop new technological solutions to prevent such content being uploaded in the first place".

Britain, France and Italy will also say they want a two-hour takedown target of terrorist material.

The event will be attended by some of the world's biggest tech companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter.

May will also warn: "Terrorist groups are aware that links to their propaganda are being removed more quickly, and are placing a greater emphasis on disseminating content at speed in order to stay ahead.

"Industry needs to go further and faster in automating the detection and removal of terrorist content online, and developing technological solutions which prevent it being uploaded in the first place."

Speaking ahead of the event, May said: "We need a fundamental shift in the scale and nature of our response - both from industry and governments - if we are to match the evolving nature of terrorists' use of the internet."

She added: "This is a global problem that transcends national interests. Governments must work with and support the efforts of industry and civil society if we are to achieve real and continuing progress and prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist use of cyberspace.

"In order to succeed, we must be united in our determination to fight terrorist exploitation of the internet."

Following the terror attack in London at the start of June, May called for backdoors to encryption, with the tech industry calling her response "lazy", "embarrassing" and "disappointing".

She reiterated these comments after winning the election in June, where May still appeared to seek backdoors to encryption and give greater powers to the security services. Amber Rudd made the same calls following another terrorist attack in Westminster in March.

Image source: Bigstock

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.