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UK Home Office Sets Out Plan to Force ISPs into Blocking Extremist Websites

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 (12:21 pm) - Score 922
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The Government’s Home Office has today published a new report from the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Tackling Radicalisation and Extremism, which proposes to force broadband ISPs into helping identify and block websites that contain “extremist content“.

The Home Office has repeatedly touted plans to block “extremist” content using Internet filtering technologies, which started in 2011 with the anti-terrorism Prevent Strategy (here). The proposal foresaw a solution that could work in a similar way to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which voluntarily filters out (censors) illegal online child abuse content with the help of ISPs.

Extract from the Task Force’s Report

Extremist propaganda is too widely available, particularly online, and has a direct impact on radicalising individuals. The poisonous messages of extremists must not be allowed to drown out the voices of the moderate majority“.

The Task Force has agreed to:

* Build the capabilities of communities and civil society organisations so that they can campaign against the large volume of extremist material, including online.

* Work with internet companies to restrict access to terrorist material online which is hosted overseas but illegal under UK law.

* Improve the process for public reporting of extremist content online.

* Work with the internet industry to help them in their continuing efforts to identify extremist content to include in family-friendly filters.

* Look at using existing powers to exclude from the UK those who post extremist material online who are based overseas.

Few people would have any serious objection to the principal of blocking either child sexual abuse content or websites that clearly contain terrorist material. However Internet filtering is extremely easy to circumvent and it’s therefore perhaps unrealistic to think that those who share “extremist” views would not know how to Google up a solution.

The other issue is who decides what is and is not “extremist” and how can you appeal an unfair block? For example, there’s a significant fear that clubs for model rocket builders could easily end up being blocked alongside more serious jihadist material. Similarly YouTube videos showing chemical reactions for educational purposes might also be caught up in the measures.

This may be one reason why the Government are known to favour an approach that would mirror the IWF, which would put hopefully responsible and accountable people in charge of categorising the necessary content instead of commercial companies.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. dragoneast says:

    “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”: those three monkeys have a lot to answer for.

  2. DanielM says:

    the cameron regime really hates the internet…

    1. dragoneast says:

      all politicians do. Knowledge is power, and hardly surprising that those in power want to keep it to themselves. The internet blows that thesis to pieces, as did the invention of the printing press in its time. Their response was to burn the books . . .

    2. dragoneast says:

      . . . and of course they could print the books faster than they could be burnt. Multiple that many billions of times with the internet . . . The technology changes, but the human mind doesn’t.

  3. DTMark says:

    These articles should be backed up (or, the horror, printed out) and retained.

    In a remarkably short space of time we’ll be looking back at news such as this and wondering why we let the scope creep again and again like something out of an Orwellian-style nightmare.

  4. hmm says:

    IT is easy joe public is a sleep all the time they are facebooking away 52″ tv xfactor the only way is essex ( FOOTBALL) this is just background noise to them rabbits with headlights in their eyes

  5. bill warner says:

    UK Task Force Targets Muslim Hate Preachers and Extremist Websites in Wake of Soldier Lee Rigby Killing PI Bill Warner Has Shut Down Terror Websites Since 2008. SEE http://pibillwarner.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/uk-task-force-targets-muslim-hate-preachers-and-extremist-websites-in-wake-of-soldier-lee-rigby-killing-pi-bill-warner-has-shut-down-terror-websites-since-2008/

  6. timeless says:

    the problem is what these plans will eventually be used for.. l personally dont disagree with getting rid of such sites but blocking doesnt do that. however with such abilities they will be allowed to block legitimate debate as well.

    take the recent gagging laws they want to introduce, it would essentially stop non-profit organisations from lobbying against plans and the above could be used to block even discussions. and Cameron really could clear his election promises from the internet (at least to those who dont know how flimsy blocking is), after all the tories recently cleared any mention of the cons promises (like no top down reorganisation of the NHS).

  7. Steve says:

    Maybe as a wireless service provider I should also block access to UK political Party sites, They are full of extreme rubbish and lies!

  8. dragoneast says:

    Superficially it’s a seductive argument that if you remove access to the information that propagates evil, you remove evil and create a better world. You don’t. That never stopped the human race trying to play God though. But it’s the sort of “quick fix” for a complex world that appeals to the modern politician.

    1. timeless says:

      indeed, the modern politician doesnt like information that they cannot control. the internet is so vast that you can find just about anything and thats what worries them.

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