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Theresa May to call on G7 members to fight extremism online

Moves to counter terrorist movements online could result in the likes of Google & Facebook having to break data encryption.

By Tom Ball

Theresa May is expected to encourage members at the G7 summit in Sicily to take the fight to the so called Islamic State online, with the battlefield moving to the cyber realm.

This encouragement will include reporting extremist activity to the authorities, and applying greater pressure to technology companies that have the power to remove material of an extreme nature that furthers the cause of IS.

Terrorists have been able to utilise social media and messaging platforms to mobilise through the sharing of information to encourage lone wolf attackers and terrorist cells, both by inciting extremism and by giving guidance on how to carry out grievous attacks.

In light of this activity, the UK government is expected to enforce orders next month that will mean communication companies will have to break data encryption. This order will include giants Facebook and Google.

Read more: WhatsApp encryption helps terrorists hide, says Home Secretary Amber Rudd

Questions surrounding this subject arose following the attack on Westminster that resulted in the deaths of pedestrians and a police officer, as Whatsapp encryption prevented the authorities from ascertaining whether the attacker was connected to a wider network.

Theresa May G7This argument has resurfaced following the Manchester suicide bombing that claimed 22 lives, after it became clear that the attack was sophisticated and organised.

Professionals have vehemently disputed questions of whether backdoors should be made available to the government in the past, stating that once one entry point is created, it will be easily found by hackers.

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As the Islamic State is pushed back on the battlefield, losing its grip on major strongholds, Mrs May said that the threat is “evolving rather than disappearing”. Blocking the online presence of extremists is not only crucial in preventing the organisation of further attacks, but also to erase the message they wish to spread globally.

Read more: What is a backdoor?

The Prime Minister will also propose an international forum to make it easier and more efficient to launch intervention when a potential threat is located; in this proposition she will also look to the capabilities of automation technology to identify harmful material online.

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