UK govt asks Internet companies to assist in fighting online terrorism
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Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister, made a statement on 14 November 2007
announcing, among other security measures, the intention to ask Internet
companies to assist the government in its fight against online terrorist
propaganda by finding ways to stop such content.
The Prime Minister stated the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was “inviting the
largest global technology and Internet companies to work together to ensure
that our best technical expertise is galvanized to counter online incitement
to hatred”. The proposal comes in line with the European Union efforts to
find ways to sanction Web sites that display terror material.
The Home Office said it was not yet clear if Brown’s proposal would need new
legislation or only different means of enforcing the present one. According
to the British law, it is forbidden to publish statements encouraging
terrorism or to disseminate any material considered as terrorist, such as
bomb-making information. Based on the so-called “notice and take down”
procedures, Internet service providers can be required by companies,
authorities and even individuals to remove illegal content such as terrorist
material or child pornography.
One measure could be the shutting down of allegedly faulty sites including
sites hosted abroad. A list of banned sites could be drafted by the
government, similarly to the one created by Internet Watch Foundation
in 2004 which is up-dated twice a day blocking the access of Britons to
overseas child pornography.
Another method could be to ask search engines to filter out prohibited
content from their search results, or to find ways to stop key words such as
“bomb” from leading to terrorist-related sites.
According to EDRI-member Ian Brown, researcher at the Oxford Internet
Institute, the proposal is fundamentally a losing one and the proposed
measures would have very little effectiveness as terrorist content could
still be published through file-sharing networks, discussion forums, or
access material by means of sophisticated software programs and proxy
servers allowing users to anonymously browse the Internet.
UK Wants Net Companies to Fight Terror (14.11.2007)
PM statement on security measures (14.11.2007)