“We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers,” he said. “They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government.”
Wallace said in a Sunday Times interview that the internet companies cost government huge amounts by failing to assist the security services in identifying terrorists and stamping out extremism online.
The UK’s vulnerability to terrorists and rogue states, “is what keeps me awake at night,” said Wallace. “We are more vulnerable than at any point in the last 100 years.”
Sites like Facebook, Google and YouTube have refused to take down material that can radicalise Islamists and provide guides to bomb making, he claimed.
“2018 online is a time to deliver,” he said. “We know they can do more. The time for excuses is at an end. They need to change their behaviour and start delivering.”
The refusal of encrypted messaging services to give the security services access to message data is “turning the internet into an anarchic violent space” said Wallace. “Because of encryption and because of radicalisation, the cost of that is heaped on law enforcement agencies.”
“I have to have more human surveillance. It’s costing hundreds of millions of pounds. If they continue to be less than co-operative, we should look at things like tax as a way of incentivising them or compensating for their inaction,” he said.
“Because content is not taken down as quickly as they could do, we’re having to de-radicalise people who have been radicalised. That’s costing millions. They can’t get away with that and we should look at all options, including tax.”
Wallace said that “considerably more” than 3,000 terror suspects in Britain are considered to be a serious risk to the public and that “41 people have been killed in terrorism this year and 10 plots have been disrupted. There are more than 500 live investigations”.