Social Security

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      Social Security

      The war on terror is entering a new era. Smaller scale, successful attacks in both the US and Europe are pressuring governments to find and shut down one common connection: the social network. Congress is just starting to find ways to stop the spread of extremist content. But in Britain, they're trying to take it to a new level. Scott Thuman went to London to examine a drastic plan for -Social- Security.

      For the people of Britain, 2017 was a year of terror. A series of attacks using bombs, knives, and vehicles, from Manchester to London.

      Theresa May: Mr. Speaker, this was an attack on free people everywhere.

      The question for the British Prime Minister Theresa May and her government: What have they been missing? Where have they failed?

      Scott: After every attack, there's reactions to address vulnerabilities, like here on the Westminster Bridge where a driver killed four people and injured fifty, they put up these steel barricades. But almost anyone will tell you, it takes more than physical barriers to win this war on terror.

      Chris Phillips: Hindsight is a fantastic thing and if you look back at every terrorist attack you will see there are, there were, opportunities to stop things.

      Chris Phillips is former head of the national counter-terrorism security office in the UK.

      Scott: But when you talk about opportunities that perhaps were missed, a lot of times does that mean that there were dots that could have been connected. Whether it could have been internet monitoring or who they're communicating with. Those could have come into play?

      Chris Phillips: Pretty much every terrorist attack is like that.

      Scott: So now, a nation with already some of the strongest, most intrusive laws in the western world when it comes to monitoring online activity, is considering taking it a drastic step further. Amber Rudd is the British minister responsible for homeland security.

      Amber Rudd: Extremist and terrorist material can still be published online, and it is then too easily accessible on some devices within seconds. We will change the law so that people who repeatedly view terrorist content online could face up to 15 years in prison.

      While it had been illegal to download and store such videos, this would make it a serious crime to just view extremist content multiple times, even if its never saved.

      Chris Phillips: That's where we've got to get to, and I'm sure the companies can find ways of achieving that. Because once they've watched it, once they've been shown it, once they get 15 years in prison, it's too late. You know we've caused ourselves a huge problem. We've got to be able to prevent that from happening. And I think at this moment, I don't see that the internet companies are, are expending enough time and energy to making sure that doesn't happen.

      On the streets of London, we found a willingness to sacrifice some privacy.

      Adam Gilsenan: Looking around you've got a video camera, there's a video camera there, on every street corner in London. We're the most surveilled city in the world. That's one of the prices of being secure at the moment, so yes, I would be prepared to give up some of my civil liberties for the result of being safer as a society.

      Daniel Watts: I think there's specific sites, specific documentation, videos and stuff like that, that the police already know about. So if you're accessing stuff like that, then it would flag up on their systems I would assume. But in terms of monitoring, it happens everywhere doesn't it, we're being watched right now on the cameras.

      Also watching, the top social media companies who recently boasted to lawmakers on Capitol Hill of their progress. Carlos Monje is with Twitter.

      Carlos Monje: We spot more than 90% of terrorist accounts before anyone else does and we stop 75% of those accounts before they can spread any of their deplorable ideology.

      Bennett Clifford: If someone remains very, very committed to accessing that content, there are a plethora of ways that they can find it.

      But Bennett Clifford of George Washington University, who monitors terror activity online, says any successes by the big companies drives terrorists to the smaller ones.

      Bennett Clifford: They're shifting towards lesser known services, such as JustPaste.it as well as a variety of messaging platforms that offer end-to-end encryption, such as Telegram, Surespot, Kick, and other companies like that.

      Which means even with giving up privacy and waging deeper into the cyber mists of this war, there's no guarantee, we'll be getting it right.

      Chris Phillips: Put simply, it's a game of risk. But the trouble is the if the dice falls the wrong way, then lots of people die.

      Those British plans for tougher online monitoring have yet to be enacted. If tried here, they would face pretty big privacy concerns. One other thing that's a top priority for both British and American authorities: getting big social media companies to take down extremist content quickly. Right now, it can take hours to bring down some videos and pictures and the aim is to really speed that up.