British Parliament wants to shut down extremist content online — at what cost?

By Shirin Jaafari, PRI

The United Kingdom Parliament’s intelligence and security committee published a report last month titled, “The 2017 Attacks: What needs to change?”

The title is a reference to the five major terrorist attacks that took place in London and Manchester last year.

“There has been an enormous growth in the volume of extremist material that can be found online,” part of the report reads. “Studies have shown that almost all attack planners between 2012 and 2017 have downloaded, shared or consumed radical and extremist media of some kind.”

It has asked some websites to remove content or make them password protected — including one such site in the US called Jihadoloy.net, which was started by Aaron Y. Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (According to the site, Jihadology.net is Zelin’s personal project and is not associated with the institute.)

Zelin declined to comment for this story, but a description on the site calls it “a clearinghouse for Sunni jihadi primary source material.”

He told The Financial Times that in the past two years, he has received multiple requests from the UK government to shut down the site.

Nikita Malik, Director of the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism in the UK, says this is part of a wider campaign by the British government to crack down on extremist content online.

“We’re looking at a problem that is much bigger than one specific website,” she says, “but the Jihadology website is being targeted because it is an archive of … propaganda material.”

Read the full article in PRI.

HJS



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