Extremist content crackdowns must balance free speech, privacy and safety: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Governments seeking to curtail the spread of extremist content online risk jeopardizing free speech and privacy rights, an international group comprising some of the largest US technology firms said in a report on Wednesday.

The Global Network Initiative said companies should not be pressured by governments to change their terms of service, and demands to restrict content due to public safety concerns need to be consistent with existing legal frameworks.

Members of the group, which began developing its recommendations in July 2015, include Microsoft, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo!, and civil society groups and academics.

The report came as governments around the world are pushing companies to do more to stop digital proselytizing on the internet by Islamic jihadists and other extremist groups.

US President-elect Donald Trump has suggested shutting down parts of the internet to stop the spread of propaganda from the Islamic State.

US officials said on Tuesday a Somali immigrant who injured 11 people at Ohio State University this week in a vehicle and stabbing attack before he was shot dead was likely self-radicalized online.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other technology companies have taken additional steps to eradicate violent content from their sites in the past year.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Richard Chang)

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