Zac Goldsmith to recruit cyber army to monitor online extremists

Tory mayoral candidate wants 'cyber specials' to tackle extremists
Tory mayoral candidate wants 'cyber specials' to tackle extremists
Adam Bienkov By

Zac Goldsmith would recruit a cyber army of volunteers to monitor the internet for 'online extremism', if he becomes mayor, he said today.

The Conservative London mayoral candidate said the new 'cyber specials' would police social media, forums and other websites in return for a 50% discount on their council tax.

The officers would be expected to take part in "live digital investigations" into online extremism, under the guidance of tech experts.

Goldsmith also promised a new "integration test" for spending by City Hall, which would forbid any project which did not "benefit the whole community, [rather than] just a single group."


"When extremists challenge democracy, equality, freedom of speech and respect for minorities, they are trampling on the values which make London great," he said today.

"As Mayor, I will stand up for those values, for Londoners and a united London; and against extremists that threaten our city."

The intervention comes as a new poll found that Tory claims, that Sadiq Khan would put the city's safety at risk, are failing to get through to Londoners.

Goldsmith's campaign has repeatedly accused Khan of "associating with extremists," with his family and other associations under extended scrutiny in the press over recent months.

However, an Opinium poll for the Evening Standard today found that Khan has extended his lead to eight points since last month. Khan is up four points on first preferences to 35%, with Goldsmith lagging behind on 27%. After second preferences are taken into account, Khan is on 54% to Goldsmith's 46%.

The poll details suggests that Goldsmith has gained votes in Outer London in the past month. However, for every vote he has gained in the suburbs, the Tory mayoral candidate appears to have lost more in Inner London.

Labour has accused Goldsmith of running a negative and divisive campaign which seeks to exploit Islamophobic fears about electing a Muslim mayor.

A Goldsmith leaflet campaign targeted at other ethnic minority groups was derided as "patronising" and "scaremongering" after it claimed that Khan would put their family jewellery at risk. Operation Black Vote last week accused Goldsmith of encouraging the "politics of division" in the city.

However, Goldsmith's campaign believes the attacks are resonating with Londoners. A BBC poll last week found that fears about terrorism and extremism are rising in the city. Londoners now see fears of a terrorist attack as one of the top three challenges facing the city, alongside housing and immigration.

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