WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Thursday hailed Google’s decision to strengthen the standards required for videos to appear on YouTube – a move taken in direct response to the Senator’s complaints about violent Islamist videos that have been posted on the popular website.

Google’s community guidelines for YouTube will now bar videos that incite violence, in addition to videos that contain hate speech and gratuitous violence.

“YouTube was being used by Islamist terrorist organizations to recruit and train followers via the Internet and to incite terrorist attacks around the world, including right here in the United States, and Google should be commended for recognizing that,” Lieberman said. “I expect these stronger community guidelines to decrease the number of videos on YouTube produced by al-Qaeda and affiliated Islamist terrorist organizations.”

The revised guideline that pertains to terrorist videos reads like this: “Things like predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment, intimidation, invading privacy, revealing other people’s personal information, and inciting others to commit violent acts or to violate the Terms of Use are taken very seriously. Anyone caught doing these things may be permanently banned from YouTube.”

Lieberman wrote to Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt on May 19, 2008, alerting Google to the fact that YouTube hosted hundreds of videos produced by al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups designated by the State Department as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). The letter asked that Google enforce its existing community guidelines prohibiting hate speech and gratuitous violence and to remove all content produced by FTOs. Many of the videos produced by FTOs are easily identified by an icon or logo of the organization that produced the video.

Since Lieberman’s letter, Google has removed hundreds of videos from YouTube that documented horrific attacks on American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senator is grateful for that response but continues to urge Google to remove all videos produced by FTOs, not just those that violate its community guidelines.

Google video sites – primarily YouTube – account for 44 percent of all videos available online, with over 5 billion videos viewed.

Earlier in May, Lieberman issued a bipartisan report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs staff titled “Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat” that described in detail how al-Qaeda created and managed a sophisticated, multi-tiered online media operation. The staff report concluded that the Internet plays a central role in the radicalization process, the end point of which is the planning and execution of terrorist attacks, which could increase incidents of homegrown terrorist plots in the United States.