UK Government

Home Office: Public reporting mechanism for terrorist material on the internet

Press Release   •   Feb 01, 2010 11:42 GMT

The public will be able to report suspected terror-related and violent extremist websites to the police in a new online scheme launched by the Home Office today.

A dedicated DirectGov webpage will be linked to a new national police team within the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Prevent Delivery Unit who can investigate offensive and extremist sites.

The pilot scheme aims to make the internet a more hostile environment for terrorists and violent extremists who seek to exploit modern technology.

If a website meets the threshold for illegal content, officers can exercise powers under section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006 to take it down.

Security Minister Lord West said:

"We want to protect people who may be vulnerable to violent extremist content and will seek to remove any unlawful material.

"This is also about empowering individuals to tell them how they can make a civic challenge against material that they find offensive, even if it is not illegal.

"The internet is not a lawless forum and should reflect the legal and accepted boundaries of society."

Assistant Chief Constable John Wright, national coordinator for Prevent, said:

"Used in the right way the internet is an extremely positive communications tool.  However it also means that terrorists and violent extremists can, and do, use it to influence and train would-be terrorists, and to plan their operations.

"Communities have a vital role to play in helping to tackle terrorist and violent extremist use of the internet - and we would encourage the public to refer material to the police through this new online reporting webpage.

"This new unit will investigate referrals from the public, proactively seek out illegal material on websites and work closely with industry to make it harder for terrorists to exploit the internet."

The webpage will also advise people how they can protect themselves from offensive material, for example by reporting it to the website administrator or the hosting company, or using filtering software.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The police have powers under TACT 2006 to seek the modification or removal of unlawful terrorism related material on the internet (section 3 of TACT 2006). This allows them to issue a notice to the individual(s) responsible for the material, requesting that it be removed or modified within 2 working days. Non-compliance with such a notice is not an offence in itself, but failure to comply removes the defence of non-endorsement for section 1 and 2 TACT 2006 offences (i.e. encouragement to commit, prepare, instigate acts of terrorism and distribution of terrorist publications).

2. The Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006 made it illegal to:

* have or to share information that could be useful to terrorists; and
* share information that urges people to commit or help with acts of terrorism, or to glorify (praise) terrorism.

Information that might be useful to terrorists can, include:

* bomb-making instructions;

* guides to making poisons;

* instructions on how to make weapons; and

* guides to targets.

Illegal violent extremist content

Some violent extremist content is also illegal. This might include:

* videos of beheadings with messages of 'glorification' or praise for the attackers;

* speeches or essays calling for racial or religious violence;

* messages intended to stir up hatred against any religious or ethnic group; and

* chat forums with postings calling for people to commit acts of terrorism.
Illegal hate content

The content of a website is illegal when it threatens or harasses a person or a group of people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity. That could be in words, pictures, videos, and even music.

Illegal hate content might include:

* messages calling for racial or religious violence;

* web pages that show pictures, videos or descriptions of violence against people due to their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity; and

* chat forums where people ask other people to commit hate crimes.

017/2010

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