We must not allow the internet to be an ungoverned space: UK PM

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron has told a joint sitting of the Australian parliament that businesses have a social responsibility to clamp down on extremist content on the internet.

A new and pressing challenge exists to remove extreme jihadist content from the internet, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has told a joint sitting of the Australian parliament in Canberra today, and both government and business have a role to play.

"We must not allow the internet to be an ungoverned space," Cameron said.

"In the UK, we are pushing for companies to do more, including strengthening filters, improving reporting mechanisms, and being more proactive in taking down this harmful material. We're making progress, but there is further to go.

"This is their social responsibility, and we expect them to live up to it."

In a speech that often cited Cameron's belief that the liberal Western democratic values are virtues, rather than vices, the UK prime minister said that openness and free trade are the only routes to thriving and stable societies.

"The strength of a government is determined by the freedom that flows to its citizens, not the powers it gathers to itself," he said.

"It is no coincidence that the big ideas, like Wi-Fi invented here, or the world wide web invented by a Briton, they all come from open societies. Nor is it surprising that many of the world's leading businesses refuse to set up their headquarters in places where their premises can be taken away from them."

In July this year, British lawmakers pushed through a Bill that would allow UK data-retention laws to stay in place after the European Court of Justice struck down the previous law in a ruling that said existing data-retention laws across Europe breached citizens' right to privacy.

At the same time that the House of Lords was debating the legislation, the United Nations Human Rights Council said that forcing telecommunications companies to retain customer data on behalf of law-enforcement agencies should be measured not by its impact to targets, but by the impact on the general population.

"Mandatory third-party data retention — a recurring feature of surveillance regimes in many states, where governments require telephone companies and internet service providers to store metadata about their customers' communications and locations for subsequent law enforcement and intelligence agency access — appears neither necessary nor proportionate," the council said.

Following in the UK's footsteps, and with Australian Attorney-General George Brandis previously saying that it was the way in which Western nations are going , Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced mandatory data-retention legislation into the Australian parliament last month.

Under the Australian scheme, telecommunications companies would be forced to hold customer data for two years to enable access by law-enforcement agencies without a warrant.

On the day the legislation was introduced, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin admitted that customer data held by telcos could be used by rights holders to hunt down Australians who are alleged to have downloaded copyright infringing TV shows, films, or movies.

Turnbull later confirmed that copyright holders could sue ISPs to get hold of data retained as part of the government's mandatory data-retention regime.

"They can through civil proceedings. Sure, as they always have done. They can go to court, and they can seek discovery of the records that disclose the account to which a particular IP address was allocated at a particular time, but they do not have warrantless access to metadata in the way the police and ASIO and Customs have," Turnbull said.