back to article Can you code a way to foil online terrorist vids? The Home Office might just have £600K for you

UK prime minister (at time of writing) Boris Johnson announced to the UN Security Council today a plan to block the sharing of violent videos on social media after terrorist attacks. The announcement specifically references the attack in March on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 51 people. The attacker live- …

  1. adam 40 Silver badge

    Sounds like a great project...

    .. I'd better start downloading lots of vids to start training my AI system with.

    What could go wrong???

    1. OssianScotland

      Re: Sounds like a great project...

      And on that point, m'lud, the defence rests its case...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like a great project...

        How is your AI going distinguish between evil terrorists and partners in a peace sharing agreement (especially when they are the same people)?

        You are going to need to keep retraining it.

        Poor thing is going to have a nervous breakdown

        1. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: Sounds like a great project...

          I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that, or can I? can I?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I kinda think...

    Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, and a few more would pay a lot more than that for something half as reliable. So... :/

  3. Paul Herber Silver badge


    and it would all have been mine if it hadn't been for those pesky vids!

    1. macjules

      Re: 600K

      Every frothing ‘take-my-gun-from-my-cold-hand’ video has a 2 minute Jihadi ‘Join Daesh, See the world’ video preroll ad. Every Daesh ‘come and kill infidels’ video is prerolled by a 2 minute good ole bible thumping advert.

      In other words, let their hate cancel each other out so that the rest of us can get on with our lives in peace.

      The invoice is in the post. Bank of England bars of gold are welcome as remittance.

  4. Adrian 4

    Solved problem

    They could use RFC 3514

    1. GnuTzu

      Re: Solved problem

      Oh, I would certainly have patented that if I'd thought of it first. And, I would have licensed it to pay me a penny for every packet that set the bit. With all the billions of evil packets on the Internet, I would certainly be rich beyond my dreams. ;)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Solved problem

      All the way back in 2003...

      1. Tom Paine

        Re: Solved problem

        Bellovin, S. wasn't it?

  5. Persona Silver badge

    Can you code a way to foil online terrorist vids?

    Yep it's easy. Just block everything. If someone complains say something along the lines of "yes it looks like a Teletubbie video but really it's a terrorist mission that has been cunningly disguised to get past more simple filters. Obviously you can't share the video with them. It is after all banned content.

  6. katrinab Silver badge

    I can do this


    I am the owner of Seaborne AI Filtering Services Limited, a company with £7 in the bank and no track record of developing software.

    I have developed an algorithm that is 100% guaranteed to identify every terrorist video out there. It is a very strict algorithm, and does unfortunately generate a lot of false positives, but I believe it is worth it to keep the country absolutely safe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can do this

      Why the joke icon? Oh, no, it's actually a pick pocket this time?

  7. SVV

    track record of showing that state-of-the-art technology can be developed,... at relatively low cost

    Do you have examples that are even vaguely comparable in complexity? No, because there aren't any "at relatively low cost". Typical politician pretending that you can get state of the art for fuck all.

    Plus, if you think that it's possible to actually develop this, then you are nuts. At least she's only wasted £600K. So far.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      track record of showing that state-of-the-art technology can be developed,... at relatively low cost

      "At least she's only wasted £600K. So far."

      Not yet. It's only been talked about. It'll be announced several more times. Maybe along the lines of £400k followed by an announcement of it being topped up by £200k. But "We're hoping to deliver the funding by 15 March 2020,". Don't plan on getting any of it.

      And el Reg, if you're going to add "Re" onto a title, use different maximum title lengths for the two different variants. A little corner case to take into account. I doubt it would take £600k to sort out.

    2. BrownishMonstr

      Re: track record of showing that state-of-the-art technology c..........................

      Perhaps she means we are a country of the art.

  8. Blackjack Silver badge

    There isn't a foolproof way to do this

    Any movie that includes a terrorist might be flagged by accident.

    Heck Youtube has Google behind them and they keep recommending adult videos to kids... in their Youtube kids app.

    Instead of you know, making an entire separate website for kids videos? There is a market of that but moderation would be hard.

    1. Androgynous Cow Herd

      Re: There isn't a foolproof way to do this

      Hell- every BOFH article would be flagged...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Identifying new videos no, removing existing already identified ones almost impossible. I say almost because the only way I could see it working would be to train using a huge data set videos that have been changed by all the filters and formats available but then how do you get an exhaustive list of every type of filter? Then if someone adjusts the length that would need to recognised as well. There are probably countless other things I've not even thought about on this.

    You could always outsource the checking of videos to sweatshops in the third world and factor that in as an ongoing cost and pretend it's outsourced processing power. Not very ethical but I'm sure someone will do it.

    1. Olivier2553

      It's being done pretty well for images that has been modified, reformatted, transformed, recolorized, etc.

      So you could extract still images from the video and proceed the same way. The only thing being to decide when to do the image sampling, obviously not on a time sequence, because video could be shortened, so it must be on some distinctive feature on the video that would be preserved across the edition. Maybe on some distinctive pattern on the sound track.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Possibly it would be possible to flag up accounts that are set up just for the purposes of spreading videos, with the upside that it might block a lot of advertising as well.

  10. fobobob

    Several options

    init 0 (least effective, fastest)

    rm -rf /* (a good balance)

    dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=65536 (most effective, slowest)

    (bs=65536 greatly improves the performance of the umm... algorithm... in most cases)

  11. GnuTzu

    O.K., but for those of us who like to be really thorough:

    while :; do dd if=/dev/random of=/dev/sda bs=65536; done

    And, then you might as well loop over all existing disks.

  12. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Ironic, ain't this?

    There was a time when nearly all western countries were "protesting" against China's "Great Firewall".

    1. Mark192

      Yep. My thought on this was just ask the Chinese what they're using.

      Sounds like the politicians are wanting something that even the Chinese aren't doing because it's simply not achievable.

      1. Tom Paine

        In China, they come at it from a different angle. You may be able to share a video about, say, the Uigher concentration camps, or all those prisons full of dissidents and activists just waiting their turn to be harvested for organ donations -- but you'd better be prepared to find yourself taking over a cell recently vacated by someone who, uh, "finished their sentence", so to speak.

        I bet there are Brexit Party Ltd candidates who'd be happy to vote for an involuntary organ donation scheme like that for persons caught sharing the wrong sort of terrorism-related material.

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