MASTERCLASSING

Facebook and Google could be hit with tax for their failure to control online extremism

Tyrone Stewart

Facebook GoogleThe likes of Facebook and Google have been warned by the UK government that they face having a hefty tax bill, if they fail to do more to combat the rise of extremism on their platforms.

The UK’s security minister Ben Wallace, speaking to The Sunday Times, accused the internet giants of being “ruthless profiteers” that fail to assist security services in their fight against extremism, which is at its worst “in the last 100 years”.

In the interview, Wallace said tech big boys like Facebook, Google, and YouTube were making it easy for terrorists to use their platforms by not taking down radical material. In addition, he said that encrypted messaging services like Facebook’s WhatsApp are making the lives of the security services more difficult, as they have no access to this data.

 “I have to have more human surveil­lance. It’s costing hundreds of millions of pounds,” said Wallace. “If they [internet firms] continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivis­ing them or compen­sating for their inaction.

“Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do, we’re having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised. That’s costing millions. They [the firms] can’t get away with that and we should look at all options, including tax.”

Any tax imposed on the tech companies would likely come in the form of a windfall tax, which is a tax levied on an unforeseen large profit that is regarded to have been obtained unfairly.

This ‘unfair’ profit, according to Wallace, comes at the expense of public safety.

“We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers,” he said.

“They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government.”