Tech Majors Collaborate To Curb Cyber Terrorism

by CXOtoday News Desk    Dec 08, 2016

cyber terrorism

In a major step to curb cyber terrorism, technology majors Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Youtube have collaborated on a action plan that aims to limit the spread of terrorist content online. The companies said that together they will create a shared industry database that will be used to identify this content. The database, which will be hosted by Facebook, will store “hashes”—a kind of unique digital fingerprint created by a cryptographic algorithm—for each piece of content.

Facebook describes how this database will work in an announcement in its newsroom.  All photo and video content being uploaded to the participating services will have its hash automatically checked against the database. If it matches a hash already stored there, the database will send the company to which the content has been uploaded a notification so that it can be manually reviewed for possible removal, Facebook said in a statement. 

“We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online,” the company said.

Also Read: When Terror Meets Technology

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Google’s YouTube have all reportedly been under pressure from Western governments for not doing enough to remove content related to terrorist groups and far-right organizations. Earlier this week, the European Commission warned the time is running out for such US tech companies to prove they are serious about tackling hate speech or face further regulation. In Germany, the Justice Minister has threatened to file criminal charges against Facebook for failing to curb hate speech from neo-Nazi affiliated groups.

Facebook said that each company would independently decide which content would have its hashes stored in the database. It said this would not include all the content these sites remove for violating their terms of service, but a subset of the most egregious videos and images.

Facebook also notes that personal information will not be shared, though it didn’t say that this information is not collected. The government can still go through legal means to find out from which accounts the content originated, and other info as before. The companies will continue to make their own determinations about how they handle those government requests and when those requests are disclosed.

(Image Courtesy: Security Affairs)