U.K. Home Affairs Committee Encourages Internet Service Providers to Censor Extremist Websites


MPs urge ISPs to tackle extremist websites (AFP):

Internet service providers should clamp down on websites used by violent extremists, both Islamists and increasingly the far right, British lawmakers said in a report Monday.

The Internet is a more significant vehicle for promoting radicalism than prisons, universities or places of worship, and is involved in almost all cases of extremism, parliament’s home affairs committee said.

Law enforcement agencies can already order illegal material to be removed from the Internet, but “service providers themselves should be more active in monitoring the material they host,” the report said.

The MPs recommended that the government work with Internet service providers (ISPs) to develop a code of practice on removing extremist material, but acknowledged international co-operation would also be needed.

During the committee’s investigations, it heard complaints from ISPs that it would be “impractical” for them to actively monitor material, citing the sheer volume of online content and implications for freedom of expression.

But security expert Peter Neumann, of King’s College London, told the MPs that political pressure could at least force big Internet companies to do more.

“This is not about freedom of speech. All these websites, whether it is YouTube or Facebook, have their own rules… They are very effective in removing sexual content or copyright content,” he said.

“Why can they not be equally effective at removing, for example, extremist Islamist or extremist right-wing content?”

Home Affairs Committee – Nineteenth Report – Roots of Violent Radicalisation (parliament.uk):

3.  Where does radicalisation take place? – The internet

33. Many of our witnesses cited the internet as the main forum for radicalisation. Sir Norman Bettison, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead for Prevent, told us that “the internet does seem to feature in most, if not all, of the routes of radicalisation”. It was regarded as particularly dangerous as it was now one of the few unregulated spaces where radicalisation is able to take place. According to the Home Office, the internet “plays a role in terms of sustaining and reinforcing terrorist ideological messages and enabling individuals to find and communicate with like-minded individuals and groups”. This seemed to be contradicted by more recent Home Office-commissioned research, which concluded that the internet “does not appear to play a significant role in Al Qa’ida-influenced radicalisation”. Even those witnesses who attributed a significant role to the internet tended to support that report’s conclusion that some element of face-to-face contact was generally essential to radicalisation taking place, including with regards to the extreme far right, but by definition this does not deal with the issue of self radicalisation which by its very nature takes place in isolation and concerns have been expressed about the impact of ‘Sheikh Google’ on individuals who may be vulnerable, but have not been identified as starting on a journey of self radicalisation.

4.  The Prevent Strategy – The Internet

53. The Home Office launched a Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit in 2010 to investigate internet-based content which might be illegal under UK law and take appropriate action against it, although Sir Norman Bettison described it as “a pebble thrown into the World Wide Web ocean”. It had received 2,025 referrals thus far, about 10% of which led to websites or web pages being taken down. Sir Norman believed that the referral site needed greater publicity which would in turn require greater capacity: at the time of our inquiry it consisted of around a dozen officers. Charles Farr told us:

Every internet service provider (ISP) has acceptable behaviour codes for use on their systems. So having that conversation, even where the website is operating in a broadly legal space, is not unusual for them. Governments all around the world have those conversations with ISPs every day, and the public will very often make their own representations to ISPs about particularly unacceptable content that may still be legal on websites around the world.

He later clarified that Governments would only make representations if websites were breaching the law.

54. Under the Terrorism Act 2006, if a law enforcement agency approached a hosting provider in respect of the Act’s provisions regarding liability for hosting terrorist content, they would be compelled to take it down and if an internet service provider failed to remove the content upon receipt of a valid notice under section 3 of the Act, it would be committing an offence. The Internet Service Providers’ Association argued that:

When section 3 notices of the Act are invoked to remove material then there is no issue; when they’re not invoked it becomes more problematic. As in other areas, ISPs are not best placed to determine what constitutes violent extremism and where the line should be drawn. This is particularly true of a sensitive area like radicalisation, with differing views on what may constitute violent extremist.

55. Professor Neumann, who co-authored Countering Online Radicalisation for the International Center for Radicalisation in 2009, told us that the Government had implemented a number of their recommendations:

One of our recommendations was to bring strategic prosecutions—not necessarily taking down websites but to prosecute the people who are producing the content for the websites. That has happened, to some extent. There is also a mechanism that the Government have introduced for deciding what kind of content should be taken down and that has also been done. Most importantly, we believe that there is no technical solution to this problem and that this problem needs to be addressed differently, and the Government have followed us there.

However, he considered that more remained to be done:

The most profitable way for any Government to address this problem is to bring political pressure, in some cases, to bear on internet providers-big internet companies who are hosting extremist videos in places like YouTube, Google, Facebook … They do that to some extent but they could do it more consistently. I believe that, for example, all the measures that have been taken by YouTube to clean up its act have always been in response to political pressure, both from the United States and the United Kingdom …

This is not about freedom of speech. All these websites, whether it is YouTube or Facebook, have their own rules. They have acceptable behaviours. They all say, “We are against hate speech” and they are very effective in removing sexual content or copyright content. Why can they not be equally effective at removing, for example, extremist Islamist or extremist right-wing content? Primarily, I believe it is because it is not in their commercial interest and that is why it is so important that politicians and Governments bring political pressure to bear.

The Internet Service Providers’ Association argued that it would be “impractical” for ISPs to be expected to proactively monitor material, given the sheer volume of content online, as well as undesirable, given the implications for freedom of expression.

56. Assistant Chief Constable John Wright, the National Prevent Coordinator for the police, added that there was a need for greater international cooperation, given that most of the websites are hosted outside the UK’s jurisdiction. The Internet Service Providers’ Association confirmed that if material was hosted outside of the UK, a UK intermediary would be unable to remove it. They agreed that “to improve this, greater international cooperation could be explored, although what constitutes violent extremist under the law in one country is not necessarily the same elsewhere.”

57. Given the impossibility of comprehensively controlling the internet, it is necessary to employ other methods to tackle the issue. Alyas Karmani argued:

If you are thinking about banning the internet, you have just got to provide a counter-narrative. That is what we do at STREET, so what we do is we identify their narrative and then you have to put an equally effective counter-narrative, because if you ban one site, 10 others emerge, and the sophistication of various ideologues in terms of promoting on the internet and through social media is highly proficient.

The Government has been attempting to counter terrorist ideology, this work being led by the Research, Information and Communications Unit at the Home Office; however, Charles Farr admitted that:

Getting that message across … to a group of people who would rarely read the media that we would normally work with, is very challenging.

The Government’s focus will be on “increasing the confidence of civil society activists to challenge online extremist material effectively and to provide credible alternatives.”

58. Jamie Bartlett was also concerned that children were not developing the skills that would enable them to sift critically material on the internet:

A lot of the information that looks very trustworthy and accurate—and people tend to go on aesthetics of websites—is absolutely bogus but we are not taught this in schools because it has happened so quickly. People are not being taught in school how to critically evaluate internet-based content and I think that is one of the biggest weaknesses that we face at the moment.

59. The Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit does limited but valuable work in challenging internet service providers to remove violent extremist material where it contravenes the law. We suggest that the Government work with internet service providers in the UK to develop a Code of Conduct committing them to removing violent extremist material, as defined for the purposes of section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006. Many relevant websites are hosted abroad: the Government should also therefore strive towards greater international cooperation to tackle this issue.

60. Given the impossibility of completely ridding the internet of violent extremist material, it is important to support defences against it. We support the Government’s approach to empowering civil society groups to counter extremist ideology online. The whole area of communications technology and social networking is complex and extremely fast-moving. A form of interaction that is commonly used by thousands or even millions of people at one point in time may only have been developed a matter of months or even weeks earlier. It follows that legislation and regulation struggle to keep up and can provide a blunt instrument at best. Leaders in fields such as education, the law and Parliament also need to be involved. Evidence taken by this committee in regard to the riots in London last August showed that some police forces have identified social networks as providing both challenges and opportunities, with the message from one chief constable that the police recognised that ‘we need to be engaged’. In respect of terrorism, as in respect of organised crime, the Government should seek to build on the partnership approach to prevention that has proved successful in the field of child abuse and child protection.

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5 comments for “U.K. Home Affairs Committee Encourages Internet Service Providers to Censor Extremist Websites

  1. Stephen Morris
    February 7, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Hands off of the internet Mr Vaz. It is not yours to regulate.

    The most likely source of radicalization is bombing and shooting the crap out of another country for over a decade.

    A sense of perspective when dealing with such important issues is very necessary.

    • Sindona (@SindonaX)
      June 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

      RT HON Keith Vaz would no doubt like censorship of the internet now that following the Elm Guest House VIP child sex abuse scandal and the revelations concerning Cyril Smith which he amazingly did not know about even though everyone else and their cat’s second cousin did. sindonax.wordpress.com

  2. February 9, 2012 at 6:31 am

    What the problem is, they don’t want the truth getting out to the sheeple. They don’t want us to know they are the true terrorists and very few terror attacks have ever been committed by Muslims.

    The Rothschild Banking Mafia has planned these attacks and the destruction of western civilization for over 100 years. Once they had their own nation (Israel), the Rothschilds had their own personal army which now includes over 500 nuclear bombs, chemical and biological weapons of mass genocide.

    Israel attacked the USS Liberty, many US installations and leveled the three skyscrapers in New York Cit y on 9/11/2001. I suspect they have attacked many other nations, including the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy and others.

    All of the recent wars were against nations who did not allow Rothschild to counterfeit their currency through their criminal central banks. Now these nations have Rothschild banks, in fact Libya had a Rothschild central bank established within a week after the bombing began.

    The evidence is overwhelming and people need to understand that Israel is responsible for the murder of millions of innocent people. Israel plans to kill billions to reduce Earth’s population to under 500 million, they must be stopped immediately.

    Israel is staging more false flag terrorist attacks to blame on Iran to start World War Three. They control all major media and have been able to keep many from knowing the truth. This is why they are so desperate to shut down the internet. Millions are awaking to the truth of what they are doing and this will destroy their plans.

    Israel plans to sacrifice other nations military personnel to fight their wars for the Rothschild Mafia. Right now the USS Enterprise which is scheduled for decommission this year will be destroyed by Israel to blame Iran. Israel will murder the 5000 Americans on-board. I suspect no jews were assigned to the ship and if so they will be on leave at the time of the attack, just like the 4000 jews working at the World Trade Center were not working that day.

    Israel has no friends in the world, only the criminals in government through bribery and extortion support their evil scheme.

    I believe the banksters and criminals should be removed from the gene pool to insure world peace in the future. As long as the bloodlines of these vermin exist, the world is in extreme danger.

  3. February 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    The evil ones are probably too late to save their sorry arses but not too late to wreak havoc on the world.

    I concur that depopulation is part of their sinister agenda. The chaps below confirm this and have a readership of 600,000.


    For UK info look here if you are not already aware


  4. February 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    “Government should seek to build on the partnership approach to prevention that has proved successful in the field of child abuse and child protection.”

    There is a lot of “partnership” in Wales the partners tried to employ a student mob to prevent this meeting going ahead.

    see Are Our Children Safe? An Investigation Of Politics & Suicide Risks
    Video http://www.ukcolumn.org/video/are-our-children-safe-investigation-politics-suicide-risks

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