Government in talks with web firms to block 'extremist' web content

By Danny Palmer
10 Feb 2014 View Comments
Terrorist pointing a gun

The government wants to block access to ‘extremist' material online in order to prevent what it calls the ‘radicalisation' of young men.

Home Office officials are in talks with web firms to discuss the possibility of blocking access to violent videos hosted overseas. The proposed measures could also be used to block access to certain types of pornography.

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Ministers are looking to clamp down on extremist videos on services such as YouTube and Facebook.

Currently, anti-terror police and the Crown Prosecution Service can demand videos be removed. Since February 2010, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) has had more than 21,000 pieces of content removed from the web.

Such material can be automatically blocked on public sector networks, such as those in schools, but ministers want to extend the automatic block to all web users in the UK. The plans were drawn up by former security minister James Brokenshire, who became immigration minister following the resignation of Mark Harper.

"Terrorist propaganda online has a direct impact on the radicalisation of individuals and we work closely with internet service providers (ISPs) to remove terrorist material hosted in the UK or overseas," said Brokenshire.

"Through proposals from the Extremism Taskforce announced by the Prime Minister in November, we will look to further restrict access to material that is hosted overseas - but illegal under UK law - and help identify other harmful content to be included in family-friendly filters," he added.

Major UK internet providers are already working with the government to block web content, with some firms requiring customers who want access to pornography to "opt-in" to viewing the content.

The aim of the policy, publicly endorsed by David Cameron, is to prevent children viewing porn online.

However, within a week of being rolled out, the filters were criticised for blocking well-intentioned pages including sex education and rape support websites. Freedom of speech campaigners also criticised the move.

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