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Far-right videos 'leave Google open to terror law probe'

Ministers have been pressed on whether Google broke terror laws by allegedly failing to remove illegal recruitment videos by a banned far-right group.

Commons Home Affairs Committee chair Yvette Cooper said videos relating to National Action were still available on Google-run YouTube, despite Government requests to remove such content.

She said that since she gave Google a dressing-down over the videos last week and then wrote to the internet company on Friday, it has taken down some of the videos but others remained online.

Appearing before the committee, Solicitor General Robert Buckland suggested Google could be breaking the law if it was found to be "reckless" in allowing the material to remain online.

Ms Cooper had asked whether Google had a responsibility, like Facebook and Twitter, to search pro-actively for and remove content by banned groups.

Mr Buckland then drew attention to a provision in the Terrorism Act 2006, which "creates an offence of the dissemination of terrorist material either intentionally - I wouldn't say the social media platforms are doing it intentionally - but there is an offence of recklessly disseminating this material, and I think the criminal law is there as a clear boundary beyond which people should not stray".

Later in the hearing, Ms Cooper asked the Government to clarify whether Google was breaking the law.

Mr Buckland replied: "I think I would have to be careful because one would need to look at the evidence in a particular instance.

"But I made my point, I think the law is there, it's a clear boundary and, frankly, if this behaviour meets the criteria for recklessness, then it potentially could lead to an investigation.

"I think it would be wrong of me to come to a firm conclusion without more information but I hope I have made the point as clear as I can that the criminal law is there and will be used if appropriate."

The Solicitor General added that decisions about investigations and prosecutions were taken independently of the Government.

Last week, Peter Barron, of Google, told the committee that the sheer volume of material uploaded to YouTube made it difficult to police, but that the company took action when content was flagged.

"We have 400 hours of video uploaded onto YouTube every minute which is an extraordinary amount of content," he said on March 14.

"Clearly, we don't want illegal content on our platforms and when flagged to us we remove that as quickly as we possibly can."

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