Extremism in the UK

 UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism



 

Commentators on Censored Commentators...

A Conservative government has been in power for less than a week, and already our fundamental human rights are under threat


Link Here 16th May 2015
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism

Our fundamental human rights are under threat

16th May 2015. SSee  article from  newstatesman.com

It has been announced that the Queen's Speech will contain plans for banning orders intended to limit the harmful activities of extremists. The detail of the plans are chilling.

They are part of a strategy to promote British values including freedom of speech and democracy, yet they'll actually prevent people from exercising those very values. According to the proposals, anyone who undertakes activities that cause harassment, alarm or distress, could be faced with a high court order requiring them to submit anything they plan to publish online, in print, or even on social media, to the police.

 

Anti-terror: the perversion of tolerance

16th May 2015. See  article from  spiked-online.com by Bill Durodiť, academic and author

Cameron's crackdown on extremists will destroy freedom, not protect it.


Government's anti-extremism plans will have chilling effect on free speech

16th May 2015. See  article from  secularism.org.uk

The National Secular Society has expressed concern at the Government's new proposals to challenge extremism and radicalisation.

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced renewed plans to introduce extremism disruption orders that would target those spreading extremist ideology.

David Cameron said:

For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.

Comment: Theresa May's plans are a threat to British values

19th May 2015. See article from politics.co.uk by Ian Dunt

The details are still not clear and won't get much clearer until the Queen's Speech, or probably afterwards. But we do know three things:

  1. that the definition of an extremist is being expanded
  2. that the process for how someone is officially designated as an extremist is shrouded in mystery, and
  3. that the list of restrictions which applies to them once they have been designated an extremist is now extremely broad and intrusive.

 

 

Offsite Article: Proposed measures on extremism will criminalise legitimate speech...


Link Here 20th October 2015
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism
In its new extremism strategy, the British government is proposing measures that will criminalise legitimate speech and shrink the space for open debate throughout society.

See article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 

Extract: The Great Firewall of Britain...

An extract from the government's Counter-Extremism Strategy reveals a propaganda 'network of credible commentators' to challenge internet extremism


Link Here 21st October 2015
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism

Contesting the online space

63. We are already working in partnership with industry and the police to remove terrorist and extremist material. Cooperation with industry has significantly improved in recent years. Removals at the request of the police have increased from around 60 items a month in 2010, when the unit responsible was first established, to over 4,000 a month in 2015, taking the total to 110,000 pieces of propaganda removed.

64. However, a fundamental shift in the scale and nature of our response is required to match the huge increase in extremists' use of the internet. This will involve close partnership with the public and industry to do two things: first we need to empower people to use the internet to challenge extremists online; and second we will work with social media and communications providers to ensure extremists do not have open access to their platforms.

65. To empower those who wish to challenge extremists online, we will continue to:

  • support a network of credible commentators who want to challenge the extremists and put forward mainstream views online;

  • train a wide range of civil society groups to help them build and maintain a compelling online presence, uploading mainstream content so that the extremist voice is not the only one heard;

  • run a national programme to make young people more resilient to the risks of radicalisation online and provide schools and teachers with more support to address the risk posed by online radicalisation; and

  • build awareness in civil society groups and the public to empower internet users to report extremist content.

66. And we will go further to limit access to extremist content online. In particular we will:

  • create a group that brings industry, government and the public together to agree ways to limit access to terrorist and extremist content online without compromising the principle of an open internet. We will learn from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which has been successful in tackling child sexual exploitation content online; and

  • continue to support greater use of filtering, working with industry to develop more effective approaches.

67. Communications service providers have a critical role in tackling extremist content online. We have seen the considerable progress they have made in tackling online Child Sexual Exploitation. We now look to them to step up their response to protect their users from online extremism. As the Prime Minister made clear in his July 2015 speech,... is now time for radicalisation . We need industry to strengthen their terms and conditions, to ensure fewer pieces of extremist material appear online, and that any such material is taken down quickly.

68. Using the internet -- both to confront extremist views and limit access to extremist content -- is crucial if we are to challenge extremist ideologies in our modern society. Alongside this is a need to promote the positive message that it is possible to reconcile your faith identity and national identity. By contesting the online space and presenting compelling alternatives to the extremist worldview, we will work in partnership with others to keep pace with the extremists' use of the internet.

 

 

Update: Government must ensure it protects free speech...

UK free speech campaigners join to voice their concerns about the government's new counter-extremism plans...


Link Here 21st May 2016
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism

A broad coalition of campaign groups including the National Secular Society has warned that proposals contained in the Queen's Speech could criminalise a wide swathe of speech.

Campaigners say the government's planned Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill must be carefully crafted to avoid damaging freedom of expression.

 Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship said:

The government's move to counter extremism must not end up silencing us all," "We should resist any attempts to make it a crime for people of faith to talk publicly about their beliefs, for political parties to voice unpopular views, and for venues from universities to village halls to host anyone whose opinions challenge the status quo. We urge the government to use its consultation to ensure this does not happen.

The government's plans to tackle extremism through a new civil order regime and other measures must not undermine the very values it aims to defend, free expression organisations said on Wednesday.

Index on Censorship, English PEN, the National Secular Society, the Christian Institute, ARTICLE 19, Big Brother Watch, Manifesto Club and the Peter Tatchell Foundation welcomed plans to consult on the matter, following their demands earlier this year.

The proposals for a new law, outlined in the Queen's Speech, are more ambiguous than earlier proposals made by this government, but nevertheless leave open broad measures to police a wide swathe of speech and should be resisted, the groups said.

The new legislation will include giving law enforcement agencies new powers to protect vulnerable people -- including children -- from those who seek to brainwash them with extremism propaganda so we build a stronger society around our shared liberal values of tolerance and respect , according to the background notes accompanying the Queen's Speech.

More specifically, the government proposals are to legislate:

  • Stronger powers to disrupt extremists and protect the public.

  • Powers to intervene in intensive unregulated education settings which teach hate and drive communities apart.

  • A new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity, following consultation.

  • Closing loopholes so that Ofcom can continue to protect consumers who watch internet-streamed television content from outside the EU on Freeview.

The new proposals should avoid creating an environment that could make it even harder for people of all faiths and ideologies to express their beliefs and opinions, the groups said. Current legislation already prohibits incitement to violence and terrorism, and a compelling case for broadening them further through civil measures has not been made.

Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive of Index on Censorship said:

The government's move to counter extremism must not end up silencing us all. We should resist any attempts to make it a crime for people of faith to talk publicly about their beliefs, for political parties to voice unpopular views, and for venues from universities to village halls to host anyone whose opinions challenge the status quo. We urge the government to use its consultation to ensure this does not happen.

The groups said plans to introduce new laws in this area presented three main risks:

1. Definitions

It is still not clear how new legislation would deal with the problem of defining "extremism" in a way that would not threaten free speech.

The government has previously defined extremism broadly as "the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs". The continued lack of a clear definition risks outlawing any political expression that does not reflect mainstream or popular views.

Britain already has a host of laws to tackle the incitement of terrorist acts, as well as racial and religious hatred. The government has previously been criticised for the broad definitions of "terrorism" in existing legislation, and the definition of "extremism" in the Prevent Strategy. The proposed bill must not introduce new vague terminology and widen the net even further.

"The government's approach to extremism is unfocused. Unless we can make them see sense, the range of people who could find themselves labelled 'extremist' by their own government is about to get a whole lot wider," said Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute.

2. Nature of new civil orders

The government is ambiguous on whether they are still considering "extremism disruption orders" or "banning orders" within the package of civil measures. Though the promised consultation is welcome, these draconian measures are clearly not off the table.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, has said previously that extremists need to be exposed, challenged and countered. The proposed measures would have the opposite effect and should not find their way into the new civil order regime.

"Extremism banning orders could mean political activists -- or any other activists deemed to be 'anti-democratic' -- such as environmental activists -- could be outlawed in future, thereby undermining democracy itself," said Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN.

Extremist disruption orders (EDO), suggested under earlier plans for the bill, could have a similar chilling effect on free expression and democracy. Under original plans for EDOs, the police would be able to apply to the high court for an order to restrict the "harmful activities" of an "extremist" individual. The definition of "harmful" could include a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress, or the ill-defined "threat to the functioning of democracy".

Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said: "The prosecution thresholds for EDOs -- as originally envisaged -- are worryingly low -- civil, not criminal -- yet the consequences of granting of such an order, even if not broken, are likely to be very serious, e.g. rendering the recipient unemployable. Few faced with such a threat are likely to have the resources to mount any defence as proceedings will be at the High Court."

"No convincing case has been made for the necessity of new measures to restrict free speech. Existing measures are already deterring individuals and groups from engaging in open debate on important issues. The plans re-announced today, though watered down, do not sufficiently address criticism the government has received; they not only threaten to further chill legitimate speech, but may also fuel divisive ideologies and make us less safe," said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

3. International implications

Governments across the world -- such as Russia, Turkey and Egypt -- are increasingly using national security laws to censor free expression, including in the media. The government's moves are likely to legitimise and embolden these efforts, setting a counter-productive example.

UN and regional human rights experts have jointly raised concerns regarding the potential impact of broadly defined initiatives to counter violent extremism on the free expression of minority and dissenting views. They have called for responses to violent extremism to be evidence based, and to respect international human rights law on freedom of expression and non-discrimination.

Conclusion

We call on the government to consult widely with all stakeholders, including civil society and minority groups, to ensure that a bill intended to tackle extremism does not undermine one of the values at the heart of democracy: that of free speech for all.

 

 

Offsite Article: Theresa May's counter-terrorism bill is close to sinking without trace...


Link Here 29th January 2017
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism
Theresa May Proposed legislation fails to adequately define extremism and British values

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Censor or else!...

Seems like a government propaganda campaign calling for more censorship by internet companies, this time with a recent GCHQ boss chipping in.


Link Here 23rd January 2018
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism
Robert Hannigan, a recent director of GCHQ has joined the clamour for internet censorship by US internet monopolies.

Hannigan accused the web giants of doing too little to remove terrorist and extremist content and he threatened that the companies have a year to reform themselves or face government legislation.

Hannigan suggested tech companies were becoming more powerful than governments, and had a tendency to consider themselves above democracy. But he said he believed their window to change themselves was closing and he feared most were missing the boat.  He predicted that if firms do not take credible action by the end of 2018, governments would start to intervene with legislation.

 

 

Thinking up a thought crime...

The government is manoeuvring on its proposals to criminalise internet access of terrorism related content


Link Here 7th September 2018
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism

The government is amending its Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill with regards to criminalising accessing terrorism related content on the internet.

MPs, peers and the United Nations have already raised human rights concerns over pre-existing measures in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which proposed to make accessing propaganda online on three or more different occasions a criminal offence.

The Joint Human Rights Committee found the wording of the law vague and told the government it violated Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The committee concluded in July:

This clause may capture academic and journalistic research as well as those with inquisitive or even foolish minds.

The viewing of material without any associated intentional or reckless harm is, in our view, an unjustified interference with the right to receive information...unless amended, this implementation of this clause would clearly risk breaching Article 10 of the ECHR and unjustly criminalising the conduct of those with no links to terrorism.

The committee called for officials to narrow the new criminal offence so it requires terrorist intent and defines how people can legally view terrorist material.  

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy also chipped accusing the British government of straying towards thought crime with the law.

In response, the government scrapped the three clicks rule entirely and broadened the concept of viewing to make the draft law read:

A person commits an offence if...the person views or otherwise accesses by means of the internet a document or record containing information of that kind.

It also added a clause saying a reasonable excuse includes:

Having no reason to believe, that the document or record in question contained, or was likely to contain, information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

 

 

Comment: Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill not fit for purpose...

Index on Censorship is concerned about the UK's Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill and believes that the bill should go back to the drawing board.


Link Here 10th September 2018
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism

The bill threatens investigative journalism and academic research by making it a crime to view material online that could be helpful to a terrorist. This would deter investigative journalists from doing their work and would make academic research into terrorism difficult or impossible.

New border powers in the bill could put journalists' confidential sources at risk. The bill's border security measures would mean that journalists could be forced to answer questions or hand over material that would reveal the identity of a confidential source. These new powers could be exercised without any grounds for suspicion.

The bill also endangers freedom of expression in other ways. It would make it an offence to express an opinion in support of a proscribed (terrorist) organisation in a way that is reckless as to whether this could encourage another person to support the organisation. This would apply even if the reckless person was making the statement to one other person in a private home.

The bill would criminalise the publication of a picture or video clip of an item of clothing or for example a flag in a way that aroused suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a terrorist organisation. This would cover, for example, someone taking a picture of themselves at home and posting it online.

Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy said: The fundamentally flawed Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill should be sent back to the drawing board. It is not fit for purpose and it would limit freedom of expression, journalism and academic research in a way that should be completely unacceptable in a democratic country.

 


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