COMMONS

MPs urge internet providers to tackle on-line extremism

06 February 2012

The Home Affairs Committee publishes its report into The Roots of Violent Radicalisation today, the result of a wide-ranging inquiry that began in May 2011.

The Committee concludes that the internet is one of the most significant vehicles for promoting violent radicalism - more so than prisons, universities or places of worship, although direct, personal contact with radicals is in many cases also a significant factor. Witnesses told the Committee that the internet played a part in most, if not all, cases of violent radicalisation.

Although there are statutory powers under the Terrorism Act 2006 for law enforcement agencies to order unlawful material to be removed from the internet, the Committee recommends that internet service providers themselves should be more active in monitoring the material they host, with appropriate guidance, advice and support from the Government. The Government should work with internet providers to develop a code of practice for the removal of material which promotes violent extremism.

The Government should also give more support to civil society groups who want to challenge on-line extremist material.

In addition, the Committee highlights:

  • 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 Committee also recommends that the current name of the counter-radicalisation strategy, "Prevent", should be changed to "Engage", to reflect a more supportive, partnership-based approach to working with those at risk of radicalisation.

Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee said:

"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."

Further information

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