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‘More transparency needed to combat online propaganda’ – Big Brother Watch

Confidential discussions have been taking place between UK government officials in Downing Street and representatives of some of the major internet search providers about online extremism and propaganda. VoR’s Tim Ecott spoke to human rights group Big Brother Watch’s Research Director Dan Nesbit.

The government is thought to be asking companies like Facebook and Google in particular to make sure that extremist propaganda – especially relating to jihadi groups – is taken down or at least monitored closely. But some organisations have expressed concerns about the crossover between security and censorship.

Online privacy monitoring organisation Big Brother Watch (BBW) has called for a more transparent system when it comes to removing content from the internet.

BBW’s Research Director Dan Nesbit believes explanations should be given as to why certain sites or posts should be removed from the internet.

 “I think the main thing we look for is the detail of anything they want taken down and how they want to go about it. In an ideal world we would argue that any person who is charge of this should be accountable and they should be answerable to judicial oversights. So when a person finds a web they want taken down, they can look at it, bring up reasons as to why they want it taken down and then they can go to the judge and then the judge can decide whether it meets the legal threshold or not.”

British governments have utilised similar practices of censoring content in the past, such as with the IRA, as a means of public security, however Mr Nesbit believes a clear system would prevent any unfair targeting of individuals and groups.

“We would argue that a response needs to be tempered with a transparent, open process looking at how and why these websites are being taken down, so that there’s a proper system that’s being followed.

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