Whose responsibility is the web and the information on it?

BBC News Headline – Call for tech giants to face taxes over extremist content

The UK security minister Ben Wallace has said that tech giants should face heavy taxation over their failure to control extremist content on their platforms. He states that they are quick to profit but rely on the government to assist in the prevention of radicalisation on the web.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Wallace said tech giants were failing to help prevent the radicalisation of people online.

Reading this headline today I ask myself whose responsibility is it? Who is and who should be responsible for the information on the web, and all the information collected about consumers?

How do you solve a problem like the web?

One thing is glaringly apparent. There is such a plethora of information available on the web, but we are facing a losing battle in trying to police it. Where should loyalties lie? Should the tech companies comply and share information freely with security services? Is there a moral responsibility to protect their users, or should the responsibility be passed to the individual – if you post inappropriate content on the web surely you should be held accountable for your own actions in the online world much as you would in the real world?

Where should the responsibilities lie?

There are so many individual tech providers, and yet there is no policing framework for these big tech giants to adhere to so should we be looking closer to home and look to lead from our governments? Would the world’s powers want to comply? Would it be feasible to create an accountable framework for ALL the tech providers worldwide?

Can we really trust the individual tech providers to police the web themselves or should governments be the controlling powers? Perhaps the way forward is to charge the tech companies to fund a worldwide enforcement body that covers the whole web? If governments seize control would this be a good thing? Would it mean more propaganda? Would the web just become a political playground?

We have been part of many different treaties and agreements throughout history, and we currently face the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) coming in in May 2018, which is designed to protect the individual data subject and their personal information held by businesses worldwide, so why not look to make similar stipulations about the information available on the web?

Tech Firms

Kent Walker, general counsel for Google said that tech firms “could not do it alone”.He stated that they need “feedback from trusted government sources and users to identify and remove some of the problematic content out there.”  So the tech firms admit they need help, and instead of just taxing the errors why not make a joint investment and get to the heart of the problem and keep users safe.

We all have a responsibility to report inappropriate content. We all need to be responsible for the security of ourselves and those we hold dear. We do however ultimately need a framework for governments, tech companies and individuals alike to be accountable to, much like the GDPR accountability.

If you found inappropriate content would you report it? Would you even know how to?


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