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Francois Hollande: more needs to be done to get terrorists off the web

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By Seamus Kearney
Francois Hollande: more needs to be done to get terrorists off the web

Action against terrorism must now be collective and coordinated on a global scale.

That is the message from the French President during an address to foreign diplomats based in Paris.

Francois Hollande repeated his government’s determination to toughen police action and legislation in the face of terrorism.

He also talked about the increasing use of the Internet by terrorist groups to spread their message and recruit young people.

The president said authorities had to react, together with key Internet players, to ensure that terrorist groups were not able to operate online with impunity.

Operators of social media sites have already come under pressure to get tougher on who has access to their pages and to more closely monitor them for illegal activity and hate speech.

It may be a surprise to many, for example, that it is a crime in France to “apologise for terrorism”.

Under this legislation, a French comedian was arrested this week for alleged comments made about the Paris terror attacks.

At least six people have been jailed since January 9 on the same charge in France, with immediate court appearances and sentences.

This includes one young man who left comments in support of the Paris attacks on his facebook page.

The prison terms range from three months to four years. Anti-terrorism legislation was strengthened in November 2013

In the facebook case, the police acted after “friends” denounced the man, 27, from La Valette-du-Var. The other jail terms were for cases involving comments directly heard by police officers.

The French Justice Minister said on Wednesday that police were investigating 54 complaints of “apologies for terrorism”, including a case against a 14-year-old girl.