Government calls summit with Google, Microsoft and Facebook to block terror and pornography sites

Culture Secretary orders internet crackdown in wake of Woolwich attack and April Jones killing

Internet and telecom companies will be ordered by the Government to block “harmful” content such as extremist material and pornography in the wake of the Woolwich terrorist attack and killing of five-year-old April Jones.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, has summoned the bosses of companies  such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook to a summit in two weeks at which she will demand much closer industry-wide co-operation to prevent the uploading, downloading and sharing of  harmful material. The agenda will include illegal porn, images of child abuse, material that could incite religious or racial hatred and so-called “suicide websites.”

Ms Miller will deliver an “enough is enough” message to the internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms firms, rejecting the argument that their products are too complex to regulate. She will tell them that they must put aside competition to collaborate over harmful content to meet growing public concern about the issue. She is worried that there is not enough co-ordinated action.

Although the Government planned a crackdown before the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby, the tragedy has given it greater urgency. It also emerged last week that Mark Bridger, who was jailed for life for the murder of April Jones, had a library of violent child porn.

Possible new measures include greater use of online filters; making public Wi-Fi more “family friendly” so children cannot access harmful material on their laptops;  ensuring all companies sign up to industry guidelines and setting up permanent bodies to monitor content and education campaigns for parents.

In a letter to ISPs and telecom firms, Ms Miller said: “Recent horrific events have again highlighted the widespread public concern over the proliferation of, and easy access to, harmful content on the internet.” She added: “A relatively small number of organisations wield a great deal of online power - and I believe that with that power comes a great responsibility. Given the grave concerns that have been raised it is right that we now consider what more could and should be done in this area.”

The other companies asked to attend  the summit are Yahoo, Twitter, BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, Vodaphone, Sky, O2, EE and Three. Ms Miller told them to produce new ideas “to get to grips with these pervasive and pernicious problems  in all their forms.”

The Culture Secretary regards this month's summit as the start of a process, not a one-off event. She wants to work “in partnership” with the industries concerned but will keep up the pressure on them to take swift action over harmful online content  in the next few months. 

Ms Miller is not threatening legislation at this stage but measures could be considered if the firms fail to put their house in order. She hopes they will be keen to head off the threat of statutory controls being included in the Government's White Paper on “connectivity” to be published later this year.

Although some progress has been made on child safety and porn, Ms Miller wants to involve giant  search engines like Google to ensure a more effective approach across the relevant industries. She believes mobile phone companies, who have agreed a code of practice, have shown how joint action can be taken on an industry-wide basis.

Sources at Google said the company would be happy to attend the Whitehall talks to explain what it was doing to tackle such problems.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders