Google gives UK special power to police YouTube videos

Mar 13, 2014

Home Office officials granted special 'super flagger' status to help block extremist content on video sharing site

GOOGLE has granted "super flagger" powers to British security officials to help the UK block sensitive material on the popular video sharing platform YouTube.

The new powers, which are likely to provoke protests from civil liberties groups, let Home Office representatives nominate content for removal if they think it might threaten national security.

The move was granted after UK and other governments expressed concern that jihadist material emerging from the war in Syria could serve to radicalise some citizens, the Financial Times reports.

An estimated 2,000 European fighters, including around 400 British citizens are thought to have joined the war in Syria.

New permissions will allow UK officials to flag swathes of content for removal "at scale", rather than having to target each video individually.

In the past, British security officials have urged online service providers such as YouTube to censor extremist content, even if it does not break any of the sites' internal rules.

The UK's immigration minister, James Brokenshire, told the Financial Times that the measures are intended to deal with content "that may not be illegal but certainly is unsavoury and may not be the sort of material that people would want to see or receive".

Brokenshire said that a new "code of conduct" to regulate internet service providers and online companies was also being considered.

YouTube confirmed that the new permission had been granted to the Home Office, but clarified that the final decision on whether content would be allowed on the site or not would remain internal. The company also underlined its own commitment to ensuring that violent videos were regularly removed from the site.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy on YouTube towards content that incites violence," YouTube told the Financial Times. "Our community guidelines prohibit such content and our review teams respond to flagged videos around the clock, routinely removing videos that contain hate speech or incitement to commit violent acts."

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