Tech sector denounces bill requiring firms report terrorist activity
December 8, 2015
In the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., attacks, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders introduced a bill Tuesday requiring social media companies notify law enforcement of terrorist activity on their platforms.
The move is already drawing sharp criticism from industry and civil liberties groups that say putting such requirements on firms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google would jeopardize consumers’ privacy and free speech and overload the government with useless information.
The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, however, told Passcode her proposal is straightforward. "It simply requires that if companies find something on their system which has terrorists plotting, and they take it down, that they also give it to the police," she said.
Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R) of North Carolina said in a statement: Since terror groups "have become adept at taking advantage of social media platforms to spread their message... the stakes have never been higher, and having cooperation with these outlets will help save lives here and abroad."
Senators Feinstein and Burr join a growing chorus of policymakers asking Silicon Valley to do more to combat online extremism in light of the recent deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. But the proposal isn't new. Feinstein pushed for similar requirements as part of the Intelligence Authorization bill this summer, but those were scrapped amid heavy opposition from tech groups that voiced opposition similar to concerns coming up now.