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UK makes it an offence to view terrorist propaganda even once (theregister.co.uk)
136 points by sohkamyung 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 144 comments



Over a decade ago a university student got held for six days[0] after viewing (and printing) some terrorist tactics which were apparently directly relevant to his research.

It's concerning that the sentences have now got even stricter and a hacked website could potentially land people in jail? Very bizarre.

[0] - https://www.theguardian.com/education/2008/may/24/highereduc...


I don't agree with the whole thing but there is a section saying this is fair use:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2019/3/section/3/enacted

3.4.3a.b.ii


"Secrecy is the keystone to all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy and censorship. When any government or church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man who has been hoodwinked in this fashion; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, whose mind is free. No, not the rack nor the atomic bomb, not anything. You can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him." -- Robert Heinlein, Revolt in 2100


Secrecy is another tool. The real keystones are the implied use of imprisonment, violence and death, if you don't obey.

When a government no longer abides by their constitutional oath (if they have one) and does not respect the people it is supposed to represent, then you will have tyranny.


"The rack" ?


I thought it was something like a parrilla https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parrilla_(torture) but it's another form of torture: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rack_(torture)


Lunacy. Want your rival out of business? Spoof an email and get them to click on an untoward link. This burden of proof clause will no doubt be abused.

What about researchers attempting to understand the mechanisms of extremism? Can you get a permit to commit thought crime?


I think cynically it is even worse than an honestly enforced abhorrent law. That one would last up until many people or some very high up gets hit by it. Send it to someone big in the media or the royal family and it would cause fuss and outrage.

This looks meant to be applied selectively in a very fascist way of only against those they want to get rid of and discredit or as a "we are making you safe!!!" propaganda point.


I wonder, do people really buy this "we are making you safe", "think about the children", etc. bullsh!t masked as totalitarian brutality and so on?


Oh yes, they really do, you only have to look at what the majority of British newspapers are reporting to see what most British people believe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_the_Unit...


Of course not, but it seems to be an inherent attribute of all politicians of all mainstream persuasions these days. So other than spoiling one's ballot, what to do?


Some do, especially on topics they don't know much about. And that would be the majority of the people.


Yes, so long as the government's actions ostensibly align with their own values.


This law is wrong. That said, it feels more like a way to have a charge against somebody who is suspected of being a terrorist, but who hasn’t violated any laws yet.

It could also be designed to limit flow of propaganda by putting a fear into young people who might be tempted to share with peers.

It’s wrong, I’m just not convinced it’ll be used as you predict.


Exactly. Many laws would be cancelled if they were applied 100% strictly. Including many speeding laws, porn laws, sex laws, ...


>What about researchers attempting to understand the mechanisms of extremism? Can you get a permit to commit thought crime?

My cousin had a university professor who taught an elective about modern terrorism or something like that. He allegedly told the class on day 1 that they would all wind up getting "randomly" selected for pat downs as a result of the research they would have to do.

I suspect in the UK that you would be flagged similarly and they'd stop looking into it if it looked like legitimate research or keep looking into it and possibly make an arrest if you seem to be the kind of person they don't like. Regardless, this law sets up a hell of a lot of (completely innocent) people to be harassed by the state.


Research is specifically mentioned in the law, as is journalism and unknowing download.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2019/3/section/3/enacte...


More likely it'll be limited in a judicial review, someone is bound to bring one, hopefully fairly soon. UK courts are quite happy to strike government legislation as illegal or outrageous from time to time.

Only a pity we'll soon no longer have the ECHR in the chain of appeals.


Note that the ECHR is not part of the EU, and so a "hard Brexit" doesn't have any direct effect on our membership of the Council of Europe and responsibility to live up to our treaty obligations.

Leaving the EU does clear an obstacle to leaving the Council of Europe, but it would likewise clear an obstacle to leaving any number of other international organisations, membership of which is mandatory or implicit for EU nations.

Theresa May would indeed like to leave the European Council because she doesn't support Human Rights. Right now she isn't even able to get her own party to stop voting against her, so I suspect that it's premature to say "we'll soon no longer have the ECHR".


The EHCR is not part of the EU, it's part of the Council of Europe which is unaffected by Brexit.

Trivium: the EU stole the CofE's forty-year-old flag when they needed an emblem.


I know, yet the Conservatives have made plain they intend to leave ECHR too. It was not mentioned as part of the campaign until the idiocy of "hard brexit" came out to play.

I find it particularly absurd for the Tories to do this as it was Churchill who was a big advocate for its creation, and the 51 Tory govt that signed us up to it. Atlee's Labour, surprisingly, was against it at the time.

Isn't CofE flag just Saint George's Cross? I know next to nothing of matters religious.


> Isn't CofE flag just Saint George's Cross? I know next to nothing of matters religious.

In this case "CofE" is Council of Europe, not Church of England.


The same courts that put a man in prison for teaching a dog to do a Hitler salute?


You mean fined, not imprisoned, for breaking well established limits on freedom of speech for racial hate speech?

He crowd funded a fortune yet barely offered any defence, beyond "it was a joke meant to annoy his girlfriend", even after the judge explicitly encouraged him to during the trial.

EDIT: The actual ruling appears to be far more reasonable and straightforward than I thought from the reporting at the time:

http://www.scotland-judiciary.org.uk/8/1962/PF-v-Mark-Meecha...

You had no need to make a video if all you wanted to do was to train the dog to react to offensive commands. You had no need to post the video on your unrestricted, publicly accessible, video channel if all you wanted to do was annoy your girlfriend. Your girlfriend was not even a subscriber to your channel.

Finally, before turning to sentence, I should note that although I invited both legal representatives to make legal submissions during the trial about the law on freedom of expression, that was done only to a very limited extent. In the absence of focused submissions on that topic by either the Crown or the defence, all I can say is that, while that right is very important, in all modern democratic countries the law necessarily places some limits on that right.


So jokes aren't protected speech because he marketed it wrong? Sorry, that sounds crazy and draconian frankly.


Intended as a joke or not is irrelevant. Making an exception for anti-Semitic and racist material is crazy and draconian? I don't see how. Seems like a perfectly reasonable and common restriction of free expression.


teaching a dog to raise its paw on command isn't really racist nor anti-Semitic, even in context. People heiled on the comedy Hogan's Heroes.


Nor is that why he was found guilty. Read the judgement if you are interested, it's fully and reasonably addressed.


If he wanted to use a free speech defence he could have done so at his trial, and he was specifically invited to do so by the judge. He chose not to.


Who was harmed by this video?


Jewish people.


By hearing words they don't like?


Specifically, a video of him saying "gas the jews" repeatedly. The dog is a distraction.


It's all a distraction because nobody was harmed.


Jewish people were harmed.


> What about researchers attempting to understand the mechanisms of extremism?

Academic research and journalism are specifically exempt, see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2019/3/section/3/enacted


That's good to know. Thanks. Would be interesting to know the extent of the definitions here. If I am an academic in a non-related field, but am interested in the sociology of a terrorist group purely intellectually, I wonder if 3 b ii is extended to me in that situation.


You are right. The first thing I thought about when see the headline was Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi). It will literally be impossible for people like her to work in the UK. I can see this dramatically affecting the kind of reporting the BBC/Guardian etc is able to do, unless they are able to get exemptions or just ignore the law and risk the consequences.


It has a journalism exception. See the excerpt linked to in this other comment [1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19153152


Thank you


Pretty sure the goal is to strengthen their cases against known radicalized individuals, not to send in jail someone that clicked a bad link...


The goal matters little if the law, as written, does not discriminate or limit overly expansive wording.

The goal of background checks was to protect the most vulnerable, not create a license to work required for a quarter of all jobs, etc, etc.


Judges in the UK don't always follow the letter of the law, it's at their discretion. Precedent and the spirit of the law is pretty important. If someone avoids tax by exploiting a loophole due to a badly worded phrase, then no, they are not complying with the spirit of the law. That works both ways.

It's also completely at the juries discretion to override any order given by a judge, and they apply common sense to the whole situation. If you can't convince 10 out of 12 people that this person should be arrested for clicking a link, then no, they won't be. No matter what the judge says.


Relying on a jury nullifying is not something I'd like to depend on. It's little known, and discouraged (for obvious reasons). It is, of course, entertaining when it happens and gets some publicity. Occasionally it can make plain when the law is an ass.

Most famous example is probably the Official Secrets Act prosecution of Clive Ponting after the Falklands war. No defence was valid, jury acquitted anyway, govt of the day was not happy.


> If you can't convince 10 out of 12 people that this person should be arrested for clicking a link, then no, they won't be. No matter what the judge says.

They'll have already been arrested, detained for months, and likely spent thousands on legal costs by the time it's before a jury.


Agreed! And besides financial bankruptcy, you can also expect personal and reputation ruin from being charged with being a terrorist.

And good luck working after being acquitted, with the Internet history that no doubt will have accumulated.

A jury of your peers is the last line of defense for justice, but in no measure whatsoever does it serve to balance the cruelty of an unjust law.


Luckily people who draft laws are not fucking idiots and they include exemptions for people who don't know what the content of the link is before clicking, and for journalists, and for researchers: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2019/3/section/3/enacte...


I grant you this is mostly true. They sure have their moments and give us some horribly vague legislation, open to overreach, now and then.


That makes it worse; enacting a law intended to be selectively enforced based on the offender is just tyranny with a fig leaf and traduces the principle that one prosecutes the crime, not the criminal. Once you write laws to be used against some people and not others you’ve created an entire class of unpersons.


Where 'radicalised' is an ever-expanding definition of beliefs that the government deems to be unacceptable.


Whose goal?

Once a law is published, anybody can use it for any action it allows.


The goal of the Article 50 legislation was to start the ball rolling with regard to Brexit. Its now being used as a stick to get parliament to accept a withdrawal agreement that 3/4s of them have already rejected.

Don't look at the goal, look at how it can be used.


Funny how these laws always get misapplied outside their ostensible "goal".

Some German states just strengthened their laws, ostensibly to fight terror. First application: protesters trying to protect a forest.

When you must rely on the law being applied benevolently, it is no longer "rule of law".


Protestors trying to protect a forest, and in trying to achieve that goal, committing clear-cut crimes. Why shouldn't that be out of the question a priori?

It's very much debatable whether the application of these laws is proportionate, but it's not against people peacefully assembling with banners and chanting slogans.


I think that nuance escapes people across the pond.


It's hard to assume nuance after stuff like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter_Joke_Trial

As someone on your side of the pound, though a bit closer to the equator, count me as one who wouldn't trust that kind of selective enforcement from the UK justice system.


I didn't expect much from the link, but the person implicated had to pay nearly £1000 out of pocket, had lost his job, and then had to fight his conviction for a year and a half in three different appeals.

For a tweet immediately considered not credible as a threat by the people to whom it was directed. Read a week after it was sent.

Not sure what amount of nuance can be had after something like this.


This is specifically exempted in the law: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2019/3/section/3/enacted

> The cases in which a person has a reasonable excuse for the purposes of subsection (3) include (but are not limited to) those in which—

> (a)at the time of the person’s action or possession the person did not know, and had no reason to believe, that the document or record in question contained, or was likely to contain, information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or

tl;dr this is precisely why the register is fucking shit. THey use stupid clickbait titles and they choose to mangle the truth


Yeah, absolutely no doubt that the court systems and judges are so stupid that they would put someone out of business for clicking a link. Absolutely no doubt. Will totally happen.

In the UK you follow the spirit of the law, not the exact wording. That means no, clicking a link that redirects you to some shady site does not mean the SWAT team are going to knock down your door and arrest you.

Also the burden of proof generally always lies with the prosecution. It being "abused" is called "making a case" and bears no relation to this law at all. If the case is shoddy, the defense will absolutely destroy it.


This is just one example of what the UK police seem to have time for lately: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6687123/Mother-arre... There's been a torrent of this sort of thing lately coming out of the UK; this is not a one-off sort of thing.

I know how HN feels about the Daily Mail, so I tried to find this story on the BBC. Couldn't. If someone's google-fu is better than mine, I'd be much obliged for a link. If nobody else finds it either, well, I leave the implications up to the reader.

I have no confidence in the police's discretion right now.


Torrent? Well, if you read the Daily Mail it really might seem like it. I take it you must live here, on account of your concern about our society, though you presumably haven't been here long, because you haven't figured out step 1, which is ignoring everything you read in the Daily Mail. (Their agenda is simple: get old people to click on the links, fulminate, and forward on to ten friends, putting as many eyes as possible in front of all that advertising that the Daily Mail's customers are paying for.) That will help make it clearer that the apparent torrent is much more like the trickle, if even that, that you will see in your daily life.

Breaking that first rule, I do note the Daily Mail article is good enough to mention the phrase "campaign of targeted harassment", which (if you ask me) rather makes it sound like there was a bit more involved than simply somebody calling her a he, something that judging by her Twitter feed she must be pretty used to by now.

In fact, on her Twitter feed (I found this by googling her name. I've always been pretty good with Google): https://twitter.com/flyinglawyer73/status/109531093363797606... - summary is apparently that she complained to police because of somebody releasing private information, and not because she was referred to as he (though I'm sure that was mentioned as evidence of malicious intent); the arrest was entirely at police's discretion; there's some kind of ongoing investigation.

This may well give you no further confidence in the police, but the ongoing investigation (and injunction - though we're given no details about what it covers) may explain why the BBC haven't printed anything.

(There's more in her recent tweets, including as many of the predictable responses, from exactly the people you'd expect, that you can be bothered to trawl through.)

I don't like trawling through this muck, nor especially do I like dragging it in here like this - but I even more dislike seeing the Daily Mail's shite promulgated.


> Their agenda is simple: get old people to click on the links, fulminate, and forward on to ten friends, putting as many eyes as possible in front of all that advertising that the Daily Mail's customers are paying for.)

Do you really believe this is limited to the DM? I see outrage-farming everywhere. They are all desperate for clicks.


My description of how the Daily Mail appears to operate is not intended to imply that other news sites couldn't (or don't) also operate in the same way. It does after all appear to be quite effective.


You won't find it in the rest of the press because there's an injunction against reporting it and it's subject to active criminal proceedings. The Daily Mail is grossly inaccurate and itself running a campaign of targeted harassment against trans people.

The true story will eventually come out at which point we will find that the accused spent months harassing the victim on the internet and the seemingly innocuous statement was the last straw.


Yeah, absolutely no doubt that the court systems and judges are so stupid that they would put someone out of business for clicking a link. Absolutely no doubt. Will totally happen.

Why not? Imagine this scenario: the police strongly suspect that person X has some kind of terrorist involvement. They have no solid evidence. However, they are able to show that person X once viewed extremist propaganda. So they prosecute X for what they can prove -- viewing propaganda -- telling themselves, based on their wider investigation and inadmissible evidence, that they’re prosecuting a terrorist.

But what if they’re wrong? Even though they’re trying to follow the spirit of the law, they could still end up prosecuting an otherwise innocent person. What defence does X have?


Well, they did convict that guy who tweeted about b___ing an airp__t once. Article about him overturning the conviction: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-19009344 , but the fact that a court convicted him in the first place means that the first court was convinced he broke some law.


He was fined 385 quid. That's a slap on the wrist to say "don't waste our time with jokes about blowing up airports".

And yeah these things are a side effect of common law which which is pretty subjective around things of bad taste. And, as your story shows, the courts worked it out.


He had to pay nearly £1000 out of pocket, had lost his job, and then had to fight his conviction for a year and a half in three different appeals. For a tweet immediately considered not credible as a threat by the people to whom it was directed, read a week after it was sent.

He wasn't just fined, this apparently caused him to not be able to receive work and gain a criminal record. Even the rest of the CPS didn't want to continue along with the case but the director of public prosecution pushed it (https://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/jul/29/paul-chambers-tw...).

The courts didn't work it out, he did, after receiving an outpouring of support (social and monetary) from British comedians.

I don't understand your sentiment in the slightest.


Most people are wise enough to know you don't mention the B word in an airport, just as it's not a good idea to make sarcastic remarks to immigration officers when they are checking your passport.

The guy deserved to be inconvenienced for stupidity, if nothing else.


Inconveniencing people for their stupidity is not a legitimate use of the government's monopoly on violence. It might be an acceptable side effect in pursuit of a legitimate end, but it is not an end in itself.


Be careful though else 'just being stupid' becomes a legitimate defence for all manner of misdemeanours?


Being stupid is not a crime, so it is therefore also not a defense. If, through your stupidity, you threaten or injure something for which it is a legitimate purpose of government to defend, the government may take action to defend it, and your stupidity is irrelevant. If your stupidity is harmless, then the defense is that you didn't harm anything, not that you were stupid in doing so.


> Inconveniencing people for their stupidity is not a legitimate use of the government's monopoly on violence.

It absolutely and very clearly is, especially when that stupidity ends up costing the taxpayer money. Not wearing a seatbelt is stupidity, and people not wearing it should be inconvenienced.


Avoiding wastes of taxpayer money is a legitimate goal for which to use the powers of government. Penalizing the stupidity that led to it is not, and this distinction matters because there may be other, more effective ways to avoid wasting taxpayer money than penalizing stupidity. (For instance, as the other reply mentions, maybe the government could be more cautious about what they choose to spend taxpayer money on.) So setting your goal appropriately matters.


Are you serious? What money does making a joke on Twitter cost?

The money was spent because they chose to prosecute it, not the other way around.


In what world don't the police spend any time or money investigating bomb threats?


A world where any sane person would realize the "threats" are made in jest and not to be taken seriously. But oh well, that's not this world, where there is a lack of sanity and too many humorless absolutists like you, who obviously are dead certain that "You can't joke about that!".


Next time you are at an airport, go up to the sanest looking person and threaten to blow the place up. See if they laugh.


If I do that I don't mind being detained, interrogated, and have my apartment searched, because doing that without context would not allow the sane person to realize that my threat have been made in jest and not to be taken seriously.

Meanwhile the tweet "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" is (at least to me) obviously a joke. But oh well, seems like a lot of the world (you included) have self-imposed Asperger's and operate with brains only capable of only working in binary.

The saying "If only more people in the world were like you" needs to have an inverse...


Sounds like you're inciting the parent poster to commit a crime.


Yes. And also potential terrorists. So they'll have to investigate the stupid people who happen to access such propaganda. And so they'll be convicted for wasting the taxpayer's money.

Hence why we dislike this law.


He wasn't in an airport.


Forgive me. Working from a sketchy memory of how the incident was originally reported.


> In the UK you follow the spirit of the law, not the exact wording.

The problem is that the government is taking this as a licence to make laws overly broad. Their policy seems to be to make everything illegal and hope that the courts sort it out.

EDIT: Also, it allows selective enforcement. I bet "the spirit of the law" turns out to mean that I can view ISIS propaganda but Muslims can't.


Why is this law overly broad? The accused has to seek out terrorist material, has to download it knowing that it's terrorist material, and has to not be downloading it for their work as a journalist or researcher.

Have you read the law?


It shouldn't be illegal to view terrorist propaganda simply because of idle curiosity. In fact, people in this thread admit to doing so. Should they be punished?


A 23 year old EE student with no criminal record (not that it should matter) was jailed for 6 months for stealing a £3.5 bottle of water.. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8695988/London...)


I'm not in complete disagreement to your sentiment. I think this will be the case most of the time. There are plenty of singular cases where wording rather than spirit have been used to make examples though - mostly to the detriment of personal freedoms. Markus Meechan for example.



The UK has a serious problem with the term "terrorism". It's effectively defined as "stuff the government doesn't like". So the Stansted 15 get convictions https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/07/un-tells-uk-st... but far-right bovver boys harassing government rebels outside of parliament gets a blind eye.


There's a whole debate about the term being a hindrance more than anything. So called terrorists are just criminals elevated to a boogyman status. This layer of indirection obfuscates the problem, or at least so the argument goes.

It gives you an interesting perspective, because then the obvious question is why are those criminals elevated to that status. You get to everything from fearmongering and manipulation tactics, to our society's fragile sense of security.


I'm thinking about some comments about a potential of the Ireland conflict which arguably included a lot of terrorism flaring up again as a consequence of Brexit and the issues with the Ireland land border. Not saying there is some connection, but it's been coming up.


This will get abused on a massive level.

Iirc the French presidential candidate Le Pen was sued for 'spreading terrorist propaganda' for linking some ISIS material in negative context ("we shouldnt allow this kind of people back to France" or something like that).


This is one of those laws which will facilitate “selective enforcement” in the most negative and abusive way.

Whatever your politics, this is bad. China censorship bad.


Wow, this must be some convincing propaganda to restrict even the viewing of it!


So very true. Also I think this is extremely dangerous, because I didn't give a darn thing about watching propaganda material before, but NOW I REALLY WANT TO SEE IT, knowing that it is apparently so bad/convincing that even viewing it is forbidden.

Soon we will have more people watching it like we have more people smoking weed when it is illegal.


If you're that interested, putting "Inspire magazine" into Google will reveal PDFs of a big terrorist propaganda magazine that's readily available in English.

Heavy.com and gore sites often have copies of the ISIS videos too - I went hunting for their grenade drone video once out of morbid curiosity...

Both the magazine and videos are surprisingly well edited from a technical standpoint, they have some people who at least know the basics pretty well. Higher production values than local news at least.

The weirdest part of this to me is that this is worse than thought crime in some ways - I've viewed this material for reasons other than planning to commit crime, yet my actions would be made illegal.


So, there are a few different forms of propaganda ISIS created, for different purposes. But I imagine their propaganda was what primarily lead to this law.

- Films designed to show... I suppose an 'exciting' life for those that joined. They were around thirty minutes to an hour long if I remember right, but fairly well structured. Some cheesy editing here and there. But definitely a more subtle form of recruiting. Usually around 80 percent of the video was combat footage.

- Their magazine which was more targeted for internal consumption. But it was a proper magazine. They were printing and distributing it, although most copies only reach the territory they held. They were mostly filled with insane religious takes, and I suppose propagating their expected norms and behaviors.

- Execution videos. Those seemed to have been inspired by South American cartel execution videos, although recorded in HD, as opposed to with outdated camcorders. Their propaganda videos were more like military recruitment ads, while I think the purpose of the execution videos was more to scare the viewers, rather than incite people to join.


So basically "crimethink"... How does this shit get passed? They must be aware of the slippery cliff. Are we just out of ideas on how to sanely deal with terrorism?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoughtcrime


Because the slippery cliff/slope almost never happens. It's always threatened, but I really don't see the UK becoming a totalitarian state.


I really didn't see it becoming a crime to read something...


Expecting a wave of pranks rickrolling victims into terrorist propaganda content.


That might backfire. The section of the law someone else linked to seems to require that you knew or had reason to know that the material you accessed contained forbidden material.

Generally in rickrolling type pranks, it is the sender, and only the sender, who knows what is really contained in the linked site, and so it would be the prankster himself who would be at risk under this.


You could deliver the stuff as an ad via an ad network. And sending an email which can't be traced isn't exactly difficult.

I wouldn't choose email as it presumably makes it easy for the victim to get out. The ad route on the other hand could make it much more difficult for the victim.


It's still costly to defend yourself in court over this. Just the mere accusation could be quite damaging to someone's reputation.


Precisely my thoughts. Not even pranks, this could really be turned into a political weapon of sorts.


That shouldn't fly with ECHR. Oh, wait...

But it's very practical to deal with uncomfortable dissent.


I suspect ou are thinking of the ECJ - which is the supreme court of the EU. The ECHR isn't related to the EU (although I suspect a lot of people don't realise that):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Convention_on_Human_R...


Maybe he did think of the ECHR. While it is not strictly part of the EU, being in the EU means you are under ECHR jurisprudence.

Anyway it was the ECJ which shut down similar UK surveillance laws in the past, and I remember getting rid of its "interference" being one of the arguments in favour of the Brexit.


Significantly, though, the UK is not leaving the Council of Europe, so the ECHR will continue to apply. The usual suspect object to the ECHR for the usual suspect reasons, but the fact is that membership of it is a requirement for most forms of security co-operation in Europe. So there's no good case for leaving it.

Doesn't mean we won't one of these days.


The ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) does not believe free speech to be a human right: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/its-not-fr...


The ECHR follows the rules about free speech enshrined in the agreement it exists to uphold, which explicitly leave room for local laws in this area, which meant that in this case it didn't overrule national law. Given the range of members, it's sadly unlikely this will be changed anytime soon (which is why I think it'd be worthwhile to do changes here on a smaller scale, e.g. through EU law)


So, it's illegal to do a teardown on propaganda, that sounds like it couldn't possibly go wrong.

Rather than finding (eg in SERPs) counterpoints and dissenters alongside propaganda there will only be supporting voices.

I guess May's moving early on instigating greater totalitarianism in the UK once ECJ is out of the way.


"likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism"

Doesn't seem to include propaganda. Just looking up bus and train timetables, diy electronics, chemistry......


Yeah, wow. That clause can be warped in far too many ways. "The defendant used the known terrorist network app Telegram to send encrypted information pertaining to local public transportation and multiple images of public landmarks to a Chinese national." <-- My trip to London on the weekend to see the British Museum, sending photos to my girlfriend.


Okay so that's why things like the Radical Militant Library and ParaZite are .onion hidden services (not linking to them here, as I don't want to get downvoted to death). I always presumed they wouldn't last long on the clearnet. They are exponentially more controversial than Stormfront or other neo-nazi websites and actually have elaborate manuals on how to maim or kill your enemy, and are a far cry from silly schoolyard things like The Anarchist Cookbook.


Does this mean that if I blast an ISIS recruitment video or whatever in like the House of Lords walls everyone sitting in there is automatically prosecuted?

Sounds like an awfully easy thing to exploit into nothingness.


If this is legal (this sort of law) under the ECHR and ECJ, then what’s the point of being in the EU?


The UK isn't the only country to be getting quite strict in this regard: Germany being a prime example.


Do you have examples of people being charged for this in Germany?


Can you please cite the German law for that?

To my knowledge, there is nothing in German that is illegal to view, only publishing and in few cases (child pornography) ownership is restricted.


The ECJ can overrule an existing law, it cannot stop it from being approved. They have shut down similar laws in the past. This time I guess the UK government estimates they'll be out of the EU before the ECJ can do anything about it.


I'm not familiar with The Register and haven't seen this anywhere else. Does any know of another source that is reporting on this?


Cheers to the UK in recent weeks for helping the US not look as bad /s


Does this mean over here in Canada it is legal to look at it once? Because I’ve read otherwise and felt slightly spooked when I was researching that weird magazine they put out years ago. Not as slick a print PDF production as the media makes you think BTW, definitely just a few graphic design tutorials.


The downfall of Britain has been happening for some time. They are scared, and they are only making it worse.


"in which a person collects or makes a record... by means of the internet (whether by downloading the record or otherwise)"

Wow. From the surface, this would seem to include an email sent to you. And if so, this would be a great way for a vengeful person to cause a lot of strife for another (by sending inflammatory emails, repeatedly to them).

Hopefully, sane and merciful implementation of these "laws" are enacted. Sadly, from other comments posted here, it's likely to be as bad as it looks!

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2019/3/section/3/enacted


The increasing censorship is genuinely making living in the UK less appealing.


The UK has always had draconian policies ranging from an opt-in program for adult content (you have to tell your ISP you want to view adult content) to now this.

On Internet, there are trolls who will simply get you to click on something for the fun of it. I’m sure many of you remember Last Measure by GNAA (NSFL).

This law is really poor, and I suspect the innocent will be caught up in the crossfire.


> The UK has always had draconian policies ranging from [...]

We have also always been at war with oceania.

No, there was a time before those policies.


Before draconian anti-terrorism policies? When? (Including Northern Ireland in the UK!)


'...you have to tell your ISP you want to view adult content'

I recently told my IP this so I could access archive.org


"is what I told my girlfriend"

This is actually insane though. I've ranted about this before, but since when has the UK been using 1984 and similar distopian works as a manual rather as a warning?


I think UK was the one which inspired 1984, not the opposite.


I wonder why governments never openly address such propaganda, such as debunking claims and whatnot? Are they worried that will legitimize the claims? The alternative does seem to make the government have the weaker argument, just as in a debate the first one to resort to ad hominem or lose their temper seems to have the worse argument.


Interesting thought - I'm not sure. My guess is it's a combination of

- increasing publicity of the propaganda (which I guess is a bit like your comment that it legitimises the claims) - if the propaganda is not already in the open, how does the government target the "debunking" without increasing exposure

- whether debunking the propaganda would have the desired effect anyway - "confirmation bias" causes people who evidence against a position to reinforce that position in their minds?


As a Twitter user in the UK I've probably broken this law at least once in the last week - many people interested in politics will retweet anti-western, anti-gay, bizarre ('women on top makes you gay') etc views from Islamists, mainly to laugh at them.


Does this include watching videos on https://www.reddit.com/r/CombatFootage/?


It seems to me that the text of such law is literally terrorist propaganda, and thus anyone who reads it should logically be prosecuted under it.


Now the real fun comes when they start getting creative with the definition of "terrorist".


So in effect we're going back to the inquisition era.


France tried to push two time such a law (with the difference that it was for viewing terrorist website "regularly")[0]. This law was banned two time by the Conseil Constitutionnel (equivalent of the supreme court I think)[1].

But now EU is trying to put a "terrorist-filter"[2], which, I guess, our law-maker are probably heavily pushing for. Such a proposition might be able to pass through the Conseil Constitutionnel, since banning website (in France) has already been approved and is in place (some website like The Pirate Bay cannot be accessed "normally" in France).

This should really worry us. The definition of terrorism or extremism has always been blurry (see for example the situation with the PKK). And, in any case, it has been shown many time again that this kind of measure could be misused, either intentionally, or by technical ignorance (banning a shared IP). The Australian censorship is a good example of that[3].

All these laws have been also proven ineffective at best and are just a form of power-grab by authorities. A prime example of that is, yet again, France, where most of the "anti-terrorsime" laws passed after the Paris attack have mostly been used against various political militant and, right now, against the protest going on with the gilets jaunes (See for example, the use of emergency state against the COP21 militant [4])

This will not stop, fear has always been used as an excuse to grab more power. Thats why it's important that we keep supporting and funding association like La Quadrature du Net[5] that fight against this kind of laws.

[0] (french) https://www.legavox.fr/blog/murielle-cahen/nouveau-delit-con...

[1] (french) https://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/sites/default/files/a...

[2] (english) https://juliareda.eu/2019/02/terrorist-upload-filters/

[3] (english) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Austral...

[4] (french) https://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2015/11/27/les-milita...

[5] (english) https://www.laquadrature.net/en/


Even China is not that crazy, except when dealing with Uighurs.


China used to jail teenage girls who wrote or read slash fiction for "spreading propaganda that clashed with the morality of the party".




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