UK Government Wants ISPs To Block Extremist Content

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According to a government minister, launch of the new censorship campaign is “imminent”

The UK government is planning to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block content that promotes extremism. It might also establish a special unit to identify such content.

The crime and security minister James Brokenshire said the new measures to combat dissemination of dangerous ideas will be announced shortly, reports the Guardian. The initiative has been criticised by both broadband companies and freedom of speech campaigners, who see it as a slippery slope towards state censorship.

More blacklists

First it was websites found guilty of copyright infringement, then adult, violent and child abuse content. Now it looks like the British ISPs will have another thing to worry about – websites promoting extremism and terrorism.

censorship, prison © Michelangelus Shutterstock 2012Originally announced in June, the government plans will follow the same model as the recently launched initiative to tackle child abuse images online, which means it will be up to ISPs to make the offending content inaccessible.

According to the industry sources quoted by the Guardian, the government is planning to establish a new public sector organisation dedicated to compiling blacklists and forwarding them to major ISPs including BT, TalkTalk, BSkyB, Orange and Virgin Media.

“This is yet more gesture politics,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group. “Brokenshire risks handing terrorists new propaganda victories as they look more effective than they are and can also claim to be victimised. Meanwhile, web blocks are at best a kind of net curtain that can be trivially evaded by those seeking the content.

“At the minimum, the government must get a court order, and use the law. But they appear to be proposing to make up lists and tell companies to take action on the say-so of police officers or bureaucrats. That would be unacceptable by any measure.”

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