While big tech giants have spoken time and time again that they’re doing a lot to fight online extremism, UK doesn’t seem to be convinced. UK believes that tech giants aren’t doing enough, and are considering hitting those companies right in their bank accounts.
In an interview with the Sunday Times (via Reuters), Security minister Ben Wallace said that the country should use taxes as a strong arm to either incentivize strong anti-extremist efforts or compensate for “inaction.” Wallace didn’t go into detail as to how or what he’d like in terms of taxes, but Times suggested that it would be a windfall-based tax that would target companies’ large profits. Big companies like Microsoft, Facebook and Apple would be some of the targets to really shake up their bank accounts.
Wallace also doesn’t think very highly of internet companies. He calls them “ruthless profiteers” who put “profit before public safety.” He claims that they will sell consumer information to loan sharks and “soft-porn companies,” but falls short in giving it to UK’s elected government.
It’s worth mentioning that these talks are only talks right now, and under some assumptions. The main assumption Wallace says is his view of what the companies are like rather than specific complaints. It’s fairly easy to claim that companies like Google or Facebook aren’t doing enough when you don’t have the full technical details considering there are other aspects to think about like privacy, technicality, and free speech concerns. This doesn’t necessarily mean that companies are doing everything in their power, but the UK government is considering any punitive tax measures to really hit tech companies where it hurts.