It’s pretty obvious by now that the Internet can be a nasty place. Is it nasty enough to warrant censorship though?
That’s what the Home Affairs Committee suggested yesterday in their report titled, “The Roots of Violent Radicalisation.” The report comes from a study that began in May 2011 that found the Internet is the best vehicle to spread violence radicalism - more so than prisons, universities or places of worship. Witnesses told the Committee that the Internet contributed to most, if not all, cases of violent radicalisation.
It’s worth noting that the British government has powers under the Terrorism Act of 2006 to remove unlawful material from the Internet. The Committee recommends, however, that ISPs should be more proactive in monitoring the material that is on the Internet. They suggest that ISPs work with government to remove material that promotes violent extremism.
The Committee highlight three matters:
The need for better liaison and information-sharing between prison authorities, the police, the UK Border Agency and other relevant authorities following the release of prisoners who have been convicted of terrorist offences or who are otherwise considered to be at risk of violent radicalisation.
The importance of reviewing the list of proscribed organisations - the prospect of de-proscription could in certain circumstances create an incentive for organisations to renounce their support for violence.
The threat from the far-right, which consists mostly of solitary, disaffected individuals rather than organised terrorist units.
The group also said that the current name of their current counter-radicalisation strategy “Prevent” should be changed to “Engage” to promote a more supportive approach in working with those at risk.
The chairman of the Committee, Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, had this to say on the proposed rules:
"The July 7th bombings in London, carried out by four men from West Yorkshire, were a powerful demonstration of the devastating and far-reaching impact of home-grown radicalisation.
We remain concerned by the growing support for non-violent extremism and more extreme and violent forms of far-right ideology.
The conviction last week of four men from London and Cardiff radicalised over the internet, for a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange and launch a Mumbai-style atrocity on the streets of London, shows that we cannot let our vigilance slip. More resources need to be directed to these threats and to preventing radicalisation through the internet and in private spaces. These are the fertile breeding grounds for terrorism.
We do not believe universities are “complacent to the risks” of radicalisation as has been suggested. Those engaged in public life must ensure that the language they use reflects the same tone.
Individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds are vulnerable to radicalisation. There is no typical profile or pathway to becoming radicalised. It is a policy of engagement, not alienation that will successfully prevent radicalisation."
The Committee has a point. There should be more effort directed at preventing people from falling into radical groups. I just don’t know if attempting to censor Web sites is the right way to go about it.
What do you think? Should governments be given control over the content of the Internet to prevent violence? Let us know in the comments.[Lead image courtesy of suburbanslice on Flickr]