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Ex-GCHQ deputy director demands fines on social media firms that fail to remove “extremist” material

Brian Lord, the ex deputy director of intelligence and cyber operations at GCHQ, has suggested that social media companies should be fined if they fail to remove material deemed as extremist from their website. The calls parallel the legislation in Germany, the so-called Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, which fine companies if they do not remove material from their website deemed extremist or untrue within 24 hours or seven days depending on how easily it can be categorised as being extremist or constituting false news.

Although Brian Lord acknowledged that “social media is here to stay”, he argues that they have a social responsibility as well to remove extremist material. Yet, it remains unclear what Lord considers to be “extremist” or how that will be judged. Furthermore, Lord is silent on the possibility of there being a slippery slope, with each definition of extremist content further encroaching on the ability to post material once considered reasonable.

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