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Government set to order ISPs to block terror sites

Broadband companies could be forced by the government to block extremist websites. The government is also looking to set up a specialist unit to identify and report dangerous content.

According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, crime and security minister James Brokenshire would be announcing measures for censoring extremist websites. However, broadband companies warned that such measures would harm freedom of speech.

The terror content censoring would be run along similar lines to the model used to block online child abuse. The internet Watch Foundation investigates reports of illegal images online and the asks ISPs to block these images or the websites they are hosted on.

Credit: Adrian Pingstone/Wikimedia

The news follows on from remarks Prime Minister David Cameron made in parliament in October.

“We have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force — it met again yesterday — setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites,” said Cameron.

Anti-censorship campaign group Big Brother Watch said that there is a danger that political figures become embroiled in deciding what we can and cannot see online. 

“The starting point should be if material meets a criminal threshold, could those involved be prosecuted? Blocking must never become an easier alternative to prosecution,” the organisation said in a statement.

“While putting in place legal powers to block illegal content are not new, the focus must be on due process and a clear legal framework. It must not be in the gift of civil servants or officials to decide if content is considered extremist and then legal powers being used to compel UK internet service providers to block such content,” it added.

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