French minister calls for Internet firms to fight extremism

20th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called Thursday for better coordination in the fight against online "terrorist propaganda," asking Internet firms to cooperate against extremism.

Cazeneuve was speaking in Washington ahead of a trip Friday to San Francisco to meet with leaders of Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter to urge them to share responsibility in fighting an extremist threat.

Militant Islamist attacks at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish deli killed 17 people in Paris in January.

The attacks sparked alarm in France and across Europe over fears of a growing and hard-to-combat terror threat.

"Today, terrorism is diffuse and 'open access,'" said the French minister on the last day of an international summit against extremist violence.

Videos of gruesome executions have been frequently distributed online by the Islamic State group as a propaganda tool.

More generally, calls to join violent jihad or methods to carry out "lone wolf" attacks are spread on social media by militants and their supporters.

Cazeneuve asked for partners from 60 countries to better coordinate their fight against extremism to create international norms in removing illegal content.

France already has a law allowing authorities to block websites that call for or glamorize terrorism. He noted laws against condoning crime and inciting terrorism have already been strengthened in the country.

Cazeneuve said he would ask the major companies of the online industry not to allow "the great area of freedom and growth" to become a "space of fanatic indoctrination."

"Facing terrorism, we need regulation and responsibility," he said.

Cazeneuve said he will ask the tech firms to withdraw "without delay" jihadist propaganda as soon as authorities report it.

Companies like Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook can find solutions to censor dangerous content without affecting freedom of expression, Cazeneuve said.

"France is well placed to know the price that can be paid by those committed to freedom of expression," he said.

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© 2015 AFP

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