UK and French governments ready fines for tech firms who don’t search and destroy “terrorist content”

French president Emmanuel Macron and current UK prime minister Theresa May have announced a joint initiative that will see tech companies penalised for failing to remove content.

Plans drawn up by the two premiers include exploring the possibility of creating a new legal liability for tech companies if they fail to remove content, which could see companies being fined for failing to take action against criminal and terrorist content.

“The counter-terrorism cooperation between British and French intelligence agencies is already strong, but president Macron and I agree that more should be done to tackle the terrorist threat online,” said May.

“In the UK we are already working with social media companies to halt the spread of extremist material and poisonous propaganda that is warping young minds.”

Theresa May, UK Prime Minister. Image courtesy of Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

The prime minister and president Macron have also stressed the need for tech firms to urgently establish an industry-led forum, which was originally agreed at the G7 summit last month.

The two countries and their leaders want tech companies to work together to develop shared technical and policy solutions that will tackle terrorist content on the internet.

“Today I can announce that the UK and France will work together to encourage corporations to do more and abide by their social responsibility to step up their efforts to remove harmful content from their networks, including exploring the possibility of creating a new legal liability for tech companies if they fail to remove unacceptable content,” said May.

Image and featured image courtesy of Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

Theresa May has been criticised in the past for seeking to create a legal liability that could force tech companies to monitor all online activity.

“The kneejerk ‘blame the internet’ that comes after every act of terrorism is so blatant as to be embarrassing,” said Paul Bernal, a law lecturer at the University of East Anglia, in an interview with the Guardian.

However, despite concerns that her approach is heavy-handed, in announcing the possibility of creating a legal liability May remained as steadfast as ever.

“We are united in our total condemnation of terrorism and our commitment to stamp out this evil,” said May.

US government blind to workplace automation, study warns

Policymakers do not have anywhere near enough information or data about how technological advancements and workplace automation could impact on the future of work, according to a study by researchers at the US’ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM).

The study, Information Technology and the US Workforce: Where Are We and Where Do We Go From Here, presents a stark warning about how little the US government knows about what the impact of advances in IT, robotics and artificial intelligence on jobs will be, concluding that such a lack of knowledge could be catastrophic to the job market.

“Policymakers are flying blind into what has been called the fourth industrial revolution,” said the study co-chairs, Tom M Mitchell, the E Fredkin University Professor in the Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science, and Erik Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor in the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Robots may already have impacted manufacturing, but wider technological advances could have an effect on almost every industry and occupation

Published today alongside a commentary by Mitchell and Brynjolfsson in the journal Nature, the study concludes that technological advances will likely have an impact greater than any workplace disruption previously – potentially impacting almost all jobs – and yet the US government has very little data about what may happen.

“There is a dramatic shortage of information and data about the exact state of the workforce and automation, so policymakers don’t know answers to even basic questions such as ‘Which types of technologies are currently having the greatest impacts on jobs?’ and ‘What new technologies are likely to have the greatest impact in the next few years?'” Mitchell explained.

“Our NASEM study report details a number of both positive and negative influences technology has had on the workforce. These include replacing some jobs by automation, creating the opportunity for new types of freelance work in companies like Uber and Lyft, and making education and retraining courses available to everyone through the internet. But nobody can judge today the relative impact these different forces have made on the workforce, or their net outcome.”

Donald Trump may not welcome the research, as it could impact upon his current focus on bringing jobs back to the US. Image courtesy of Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

The study argues that more research is urgently needed to determine how automation and other technological advances are set to impact on the future US workforce, with the co-chair’s commentary going so far as to call for an integrated information strategy that would pull together both public and privately held data into one unified source.

“Governments must learn the lessons that industry has learned over the past decade, about how to take advantage of the exploding volume of online, real-time data to design more attractive products and more effective management policies,” Mitchell said.

However, the study may not be welcomed by the Trump administration. The research comes at a time when the new administration is determined to attract manufacturing back to the US, and generate large numbers of new jobs in the process. As a result, such suggestions of a future problem with employment may not be met favourably.