UK eyeing ‘extremism’ tax on social media giants

Jan 3, 2018 · techcrunch.com

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The UK government has kicked off the new year with another warning shot across the bows of social media giants.

In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper, security minister Ben Wallace hit out at tech platforms like Facebook and Google, dubbing such companies "ruthless profiteers" and saying they are doing too little to help the government combat online extremism and terrorism despite hateful messages spreading via their platforms.

"We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers. They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government," he said.

Wallace suggested the government is considering a tax on tech firms to cover the rising costs of policing related to online radicalization.

"If they continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivizing them or compen­sating for their inaction," he told the newspaper.

Although the minister did not name any specific firms, a reference to encryption suggests Facebook-owned WhatsApp is one of the platforms being called out (the UK’s Home Secretary has also previously directly attacked WhatsApp’s use of end-to-end encryption as an aid to criminals, as well as repeatedly attacking e2e encryption itself).

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