Microsoft is one of the companies that are fighting against terrorism, and the company has launched a new set of policies that are supposed to help in its efforts to stop such content from being stored on its servers.
Redmond says that from now on it will use the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List to determine whether specific content can be labeled as terrorism or not, thus helping it decide what should be deleted and what shouldn’t. Graphic violence, content that encourages violent actions or encourages people to join terrorist groups will be removed, Microsoft says.
“When terrorist content on our hosted consumer services is brought to our attention via our online reporting tool, we will remove it. All reporting of terrorist content – from governments, concerned citizens or other groups – on any Microsoft service should be,” Microsoft explains.
There’s a different rule specifically created for the Bing search engine. Microsoft says that terrorist content will be removed from Bing only when it receives a takedown request, otherwise it will continue to be available. The reason here is that Bing doesn’t store any content, but only links to websites that may infringe certain laws, so if a takedown request is received, the company can comply with it.
Partnerships with NGOs also planned
Microsoft, however, is working with several partners to help detect such content in a more effective manner and remove links even from Bing.
“We are exploring new partnerships with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to display public service announcements with links to positive messaging and alternative narratives for some search queries for terrorist material. We’re hopeful that these upcoming collaborations will help protect troubled individuals from heading down a path toward violence,” it says.
Microsoft’s new set of policies comes at a time when tech giants are deeply involved in the fight against terrorism, but at the same time try to protect themselves against government demands that would further expose their customers.
Apple is the most recent example, as the company was asked by the US government to help unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters at San Bernardino in late 2015. Apple refused on security grounds, explaining that it would thus set a precedent that would then allow government agencies to break into any other iPhone easily.
Microsoft, Google, and other large tech companies showed their support for Apple, calling for continued talks between the industry and the government that would help find a resolution in cases affecting national security.