New website to tackle online terrorism

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Police can now receive reports from the public on suspected terror-related online presence via a new website launched this week by the Home Office.

The dedicated DirectGov webpage links to a new police team within the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) PREVENT Delivery Unit, which will investigate offensive and extremist sites.

The pilot scheme aims to make the Internet a more hostile environment for terrorists and violent extremists who seek to exploit modern technology.

If a website meets the threshold for illegal content, officers can exercise powers under Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006 to take it down.

Assistant Chief Constable John Wright, national coordinator for PREVENT, said: “Used in the right way, the Internet is an extremely positive communications tool. However, it also means that terrorists and violent extremists can, and do, use it to influence and train would-be terrorists, and to plan their operations.

“Communities have a vital role to play in helping to tackle terrorist and violent extremist use of the Internet – and we would encourage the public to refer material to the police through this new online reporting webpage.

“This new unit will investigate referrals from the public, proactively seek out illegal material on websites and work closely with industry to make it harder for terrorists to exploit the Internet.”

Security Minister Lord West said: “We want to protect people who may be vulnerable to violent extremist content and will seek to remove any unlawful material.

“This is also about empowering individuals to tell them how they can make a civic challenge against material that they find offensive, even if it is not illegal.

“The Internet is not a lawless forum and should reflect the legal and accepted boundaries of society.”

By Gemma Ilston

04 Feb 2010

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