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5/19/2008
08:39 PM
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Senator Lieberman Wants Terrorist Videos Removed From YouTube

Islamic terrorist organizations use YouTube to distribute propaganda, attract followers, and provide weapons training, the senator said in a letter.

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, on Monday asked Google CEO Eric Schmidt in an open letter to remove Islamic terrorist videos from YouTube, which is owned by Google.

Islamic terrorist organizations, Lieberman said, use YouTube to distribute propaganda, attract followers, and provide weapons training.

While YouTube has community guidelines for its users, Lieberman said "it does not appear that [Google] is enforcing these guidelines to the extent they would apply to [terrorist] content.

"Searches on YouTube return dozens of videos branded with an icon or logo identifying the videos as the work of one of these Islamist terrorist organizations," Lieberman said. "A great majority of these videos document horrific attacks on American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. Others provide weapons training, speeches by al-Qaeda leadership, and general material intended to radicalize potential recruits."

Lieberman 's concerns echo those raised in "Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat," a bipartisan report released recently by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The report notes that while propaganda has long been a part of the violent Islamic movement, the Internet provides the most accessible way for individuals to connect with extremists around the world. As such, the Internet represents a threat, according to the report.

"As this report demonstrates, the use of the Internet by al-Qaeda and other violent Islamist extremist groups has expanded the terrorist threat to our homeland," the report states. "No longer is the threat just from abroad, as was the case with the attacks of September 11, 2001; the threat is now increasingly from within, from homegrown terrorists who are inspired by violent Islamist ideology to plan and execute attacks where they live."

In a blog post on Monday, YouTube responded that due to the volume of videos that are uploaded, it's not possible to pre-screen that much content. As a consequence, YouTube relies on its community members to flag video that violates its Community Guidelines.

YouTube said it responded to Lieberman's concerns and removed a number of videos, but noted that videos not containing gratuitous violence or hate speech were not removed because they do not violate YouTube's guidelines.

"Senator Lieberman stated his belief, in a letter sent today, that all videos mentioning or featuring these groups should be removed from YouTube -- even legal nonviolent or non-hate speech videos," YouTube's blog post states. "While we respect and understand his views, YouTube encourages free speech and defends everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. We believe that YouTube is a richer and more relevant platform for users precisely because it hosts a diverse range of views, and rather than stifle debate we allow our users to view all acceptable content and make up their own minds."

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