Adding his voice to what bids fair to become one of 2018’s biggest trends in Europe – a political “techlash” against internet giants, U.K. security minister Ben Wallace has lashed out at Facebook, Google and YouTube, threatening to impose multimillion pound tax punishments on them for failing to fight terrorism in Britain.
“Ruthless profiteers,” but failing to address the danger of the radicalization of people online, the tech mega platforms were forcing governments to plow millions into policing the web, Wallace claimed in an interview with The Sunday Times.
The U.K. security minister took a specific swipe at messaging services such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which refuse to allow security services access to message data.
“They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically-elected government,” Wallace argued, suggesting the U.K. government could slap tech giants with tax fines over extremist content.
Google has hit back in the past arguing that it simply does not have the resources to police the web on its own, and needs the collaboration of the government and indeed users. Covering
Wallace’s comments, BBC.com cited YouTube’s comments that it receives 200,000 reports of inappropriate content a day, and review 98% of it within 24 hours.
The security minister’s outburst comes just over a week after Germany’s cartel office (FCO ) issued a preliminary finding in an anti-trust case ruling that Facebook is transferring data to third-parties and abusing its dominant position in the German market. Signing up to Facebook was conditional on the company “being allowed to limitlessly amass every kind of data generated by using third-party websites and merge it with the user’s Facebook account,” a preliminary legal finding said on Dec. 19.
The E.U. is preparing its own keystone new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, that, rolled out from May next year, will limit tech giants’ use of private data and allow it to impose huge fines on companies’ contravening its strictures.
Facebook has denied it has a dominant position. “We will be working directly with relevant data protection officials to ensure our approach meets the requirements set out by GDPR and are confident that we will be able to address the questions posed by the FCO,” Yvonne Cunnane, Facebook’s head of data protection in Ireland, is quoted as saying.