UK to help develop new tech aimed at stopping terrorist content sharing online

The Home Office is providing funding and support for a new project that will help to stop violent videos being shared online after terrorist attacks. The new funding, announced by Prime Minster Boris Johnson at the UN General Assembly in New York, will support efforts to develop industry-wide technology that can automatically identify online videos which have been altered to avoid existing detection methods and help prevent them from being shared online.

The announcement follows the Christchurch attack in New Zealand last March in which 51 people were killed and which saw hundreds of different versions of the attacker’s live-streamed video spread across online platforms, with Facebook removing over 1.5 million uploads of the video from its own platform.

Many of the videos had been intentionally edited to evade current content filters and, in some cases, it took days for them to be removed.

UK data science experts, supported by the Home Office, will use the new funding to create an algorithm which any technology company in the world can use, free of charge, to improve the way in which they detect violent and harmful videos and prevent them being shared by their users.

Not only will this make it much harder for terrorist content to be shared online, but the outcomes of the research could also eventually be used to help spot other types of harmful content such as child sexual abuse.

Home Secretary Priti Patel

Home Secretary Priti Patel

Home Secretary Priti Patel stated: “The sharing of images of terrorist attacks has a devastating effect on the families and loved ones of victims and plays into terrorists’ hands by amplifying their twisted messages. The UK has a track record of showing that state-of-the-art technology can be developed, in partnership with industry, at relatively low cost. This is just the latest example of our commitment to working with industry to tackle our shared challenges and respond to the ever-evolving threats which we face.”

The announcement further demonstrates the UK’s role as a world leader in online safety as it continues to build on the shared commitments to work with industry in the fight against terrorism online which were made at the Home Secretary-hosted Five Country Ministerial meeting in London earlier this year.

This announcement also honours the commitments made in the Christchurch ‘Call to Action’ to tackle terrorist use of the Internet, which world leaders signed up to at a summit in Paris back in May.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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