At the New America Foundation on Thursday, November 9, GNI Policy Director Jason Pielemeier participated in “An Evening with the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, U.K. Home Secretary,” a panel discussion on the challenges around extremist groups’ continued use of online platforms and the role of the private sector in combatting this trend.

In her opening speech to DC-based policymakers, the Home Secretary argued that the majority of terrorist plots contained some “online element” to their planning or execution, and she called on the major internet and social media companies to do more to remove this content from their platforms and to assist smaller companies to do the same. Mr. Pielemeier warned against “a media narrative that continues to pit governments and companies against each other,” and reiterated the importance of transparency and remedy measures to building public trust when companies are being compelled to censor more and more online content.

He cautioned that with no internationally accepted definition of “extremist”, or “terrorist” content, bulk censorship of material that is problematic, but not illegal, created enormous potential risks, not least setting a precedent for abuse by authoritarian governments and creating a model for disproportionate censorship of other forms of legal content.

Also participating in the panel was Kevin Bankston of New America’s Open Technology Institute, a GNI member, former US Government Officials Mary McCord and Joshua Geltzer, and Evanna Hu, from Omelas/Quilliam, a technologist who models the effectiveness of Countering Violent Extremism efforts. Copies of GNI’s 2016 Policy Brief, “Extremist Content in the ICT Sector,” were distributed at the event.