The Senate Intelligence Committee has approved a new measure which would force social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to report content that is believed to be connected to “terrorist activity”.
The Washington Post reported that the measure will be included as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2016. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved the measure in a closed session on Wednesday July 1st. The measure is supposed to help intelligence and law enforcement officials detect terror threats.
The Post reports:
“It would not require companies to monitor their sites if they do not already do so, said a committee aide, who requested anonymity because the bill has not yet been filed. The measure applies to “electronic communication service providers,” which includes e-mail services such as Google and Yahoo.”
The bill would require any online company that “obtains actual knowledge of any terrorist activity . . . shall provide to the appropriate authorities the facts or circumstances of the alleged terrorist activity.”
Google, Facebook and Twitter declined to comment to The Post, however, “anonymous industry officials” reportedly called the measure a bad idea.
Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Post he believed the measure would erode privacy in the name of fighting terrorism.
“If it becomes law, their natural tendency will be to err on the side of reporting anything that might be characterized as ‘terrorist activity’ even if it is not. And their duty to report will chill speech on the Internet that relates to terrorism.”
The U.S. government already maintains a massive surveillance state, including a number of programs that gather internet user data. This latest measure would only further codify the government’s ability to force private companies to hand over sensitive information.