When government Fusion centers, email sniffers, mobile phone locator systems, and web data aggregation systems aren’t enough it’s time to turn to individual users on the internet for spying and reporting on each other.
Senator Joe Lieberman, who in the 2000 election was a heartbeat away from being a heartbeat away from the Presidency as Al Gore’s running mate, sent an alarming email to Google executives last week calling for the search and applications behemoth, used by hundreds of millions of web users globally, to introduce a flagging system for terrorist content across all of its user-based platforms.
In a November 22nd letter to Google CEO Larry Page (published in full below), Lieberman Writes:
On Saturday, the New York Police Department arrested Joe Pimental for constructing a pipe bomb to be used against U.S. military service members. Pimental allegedly used the Internet to access instructions to make bombs and share his support for violent Islamist extremism.
Pimental’s Internet activity – both his spreading of bomb-making instruction links and his hate-filled writings – were hosted by Google. On his site www.trueislam1.com, Pimental stated, “People have to understand that America and it allies are all legitimate targets in warfare. This includes facilities such as army bases, police stations, political facilities, embassies, CIA and FBI buildings, private and public airports, and all kinds of buildings where money is being made to help fund the war.” As demonstrated by this recent case, Google’s webhosting site, Blogger is being used by violent Islamist extremists to broadcast terrorist content. Pimental’s site is just one of the many examples of homegrown terrorists using Google-hosted sites to propagate their violent ideology.
In September 2008, in response to a previous request that YouTube not allow terrorist content on its servers, Google changed its YouTube Community Guidelines to expressly ban terrorist conent. In November 2010, Google introduced a “flag” button for terrorist content on YouTube. I continue to appreciate and commend these important first steps but I am disappointed that Google has not developed a consistent standard throughout its many platforms. Unlike YouTube’s Community Standards, Blogger’s Content Policy does not expressly ban terrorst content nor does it provide a “flag” feature for such content.
Google sets its own standards for materials allowable on its servers. Through your updated YouTube standards, Google has affirmatively stated that terrorist content will not be permitted on some of your sites. I strongly believe that Google should expand that standard to include your other platforms. The private sector plays an important role in protecting our homeland from the preeminent threat of violent Islamist extremism, and Google’s inconsistent stanrds are adversely affecting our ability to counter violent Islamist extremism online.
Original document image provided by TPM