Speaking at the United Nations Special Security Council debate on counter-terrorism today, Microsoft said there was no single solution to prevent terrorists from using the web, likening it to the battle on child pornography.
Microsoft’s vice president Steven Crown said the challenge posed by terrorism on the web was daunting but that the industry was willing to discuss ways to counter “misuse of our technologies to spread violence, to destroy and to kill.”
“There is no silver bullet that will stop terrorist use of the Internet,” Crown said.
“We know that there are tens of thousands of terrorist Internet accounts that refuse to die. As one is taken down, another quickly springs up in its place,” he said.
Microsoft however told the UN that technology companies can do more to combat digital terror.
“Any technology can be used for good or for evil,” said Crown.
“This was true of fire — think of arson – of gunpowder, of the printing press and it is also true of our information technology products and platforms.”
Microsoft and other ICT companies are taking part in a new initiative under the UN’s counter-terrorism committee to agree on ways to address the threats and Crown suggested that steps could be taken to make it easier for governments to report to companies any misuse of the Internet and to help them with investigations.
“Microsoft services and Microsoft the company are different from Google, which is different from Facebook, which is different from Twitter,” he said.
“We compete fiercely at times, incredibly fiercely, but we have come together when our platforms are misused.”
Crown however warned that respect for the rule of law, human rights and upholding freedom of expression must be a “foundation” for any action.
“Our activities in this realm must be principled, but we must press beyond what we are doing today,” he said.