MPs Call For ASBO-Style Social Media Bans

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Follow on: Google +

An all-party group has concluded that Internet bans could help in combating the spread of hate speech on social media

MPs have called for ASBO-style orders to be issued to ban users from the Internet in cases of “determined” hate crimes.

In a report published on Monday, the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism said the “principles, rules and restrictions” that apply to sex offenders should also be used to help fight hate speech and racial harassment online.

Twitterbantop

“If it can be proven in a detailed way that someone has made a considered and determined view to exploit various online networks to harm and perpetrate hate crimes against others then the accepted principles, rules and restrictions that are relevant to sex offences must surely apply,” the report said.

Labour MP John Mann, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, which commissioned the inquiry, told the House of Commons that anti-social orders should be extended to the Internet.

“If we can ban people from going to a certain pub or certain football match…then the same should be done to specific parts of social media or, if necessary, to the internet as a whole,” Mann said, according to the BBC.

Justice Minister Shailesh Vara responded that the coalition government is actively “working and engaging with social media platforms, with the police and with other stakeholders with a view to try and improve the position”.

In a statement, Mann called the new report a “plan of action” and said parliament should “take the lead” in the fight against anti-semitism.

David Cameron called the report “hugely important”.

Anti-semitic incidents

The inquiry was launched last year following a rise in anti-semitic incidents over the summer, and found that social media platforms are “increasingly been used for the spread of anti-semitism“, noting the frequency of Nazi-themed keywords and imagery on Twitter and Facebook last summer.

“Social media is a global phenomenon and one that, despite the multitude of benefits it provides, assists the globalisation of antisemitism and can make communities feel more acutely at risk,” the report stated.

A previous inquiry in 2005 called for improved international cooperation to help stop the spread of racist material online, but the current report found that “the disparity of legal stances and global nature of the web means that the problem may never be fully resolved”.

It added, however, that UK Internet service providers have “been good at removing illegal material”.

Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo has admitted that the site is poor at dealing with abuse. Last year Twitter introduced a “report abuse” button that appears with every post.

Are you a security pro? Try our quiz!