France asks US Internet giants to “help fight terror”

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The French government has requested that Google, Facebook and Twitter cooperate with French officials during investigations and asked that they immediately take down any extremist propaganda that is discovered, said minister of the interior Bernard Cazeneuve.

“We emphasized that when an investigation is under way we don’t want to go through the usual government to government channels, which can take so long,” said the interior minister after a meeting with representatives from the US tech giants while visiting Silicon Valley.
“It’s important to have full cooperation and quick reaction,” he added

Cazeneuve’s comments came after the deadly Charlie Hebdo attacks which claimed 20 lives, including the three gunmen. Twitter and Facebook officials stated that they work to prevent radical propaganda but didn’t comment as to whether they would heed the minister’s request.

“We regularly host ministers and other governmental officials from across the world at Facebook, and were happy to welcome Mr. Cazeneuve today,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We work aggressively to ensure that we do not have terrorists or terror groups using the site, and we also remove any content that praises or supports terrorism.”

When asked whether Twitter would comply with French investigators, a spokesperson stated: “We review all reported content against our rules, which prohibit direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

An email to Google requesting comment was not immediately answered. According to US intelligence officials the number of foreign fighters leaving to join ISIL has grown, with at least 3,400 coming from Western nations out of the 20,000 from around the world.
“I told them we can figure this out together, we can come up with counterterrorism speech and block these sites that are enticing the most vulnerable members of our society to commit terrorist acts,” said Cazeneuve.

France is also pushing to treat “jihadi material” on the internet like child pornography, a task that few had heard of before the attacks in Paris, but is now widely acknowledged by Europe’s top officials. Cazeneuve believed the meeting was a solid foundation for building a strong relationship between the tech companies and the French government.

He said he invited them to go to Paris in April to continue the conversation.

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