Home Affairs Committee Recommends Stronger Online Censorship Measures
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A report from the UK Home Affairs Committee has called for the government to place more onus on ISPs to censor unlawful material posted online.

The Home Affairs Committee published its report The Roots of Violent Radicalisation on Monday. The result of research carried since May 2011, the report recommended an increase in online censorship within the UK.

The recommendation came after the report highlighted its belief that the internet was one of the key mediums through which violent radicalism was growing in Britain.

"The Committee concludes that the internet is one of the most significant vehicles for promoting violent radicalism - more so than prisons, universities or places of worship," read the report. "Witnesses told the Committee that the internet played a part in most, if not all, cases of violent radicalisation."

In practice the committee called for an increased onus on internet service provider's (ISPs) responsibility to remove unlawful material.

"Although there are statutory powers under the Terrorism Act 2006 for law enforcement agencies to order unlawful material to be removed from the internet, the Committee recommends that internet service providers themselves should be more active in monitoring the material they host, with appropriate guidance, advice and support from the Government."

Finally concluding: "The Government should work with internet providers to develop a code of practice for the removal of material which promotes violent extremism."

Since being published the recommendations have met with criticism by several security experts. Speaking to the International Business Times UK, Trend Micro's director security research communication EMEA Rik Ferguson clarified that the practicalities of censoring political or religious material would damage the country's inherent freedom of expression laws.

"There is general precedent for ISP to be proactive in removing illegal material from their estate, as the report states they are generally very effective at this when it concerns for example pornographic material, however, material of a political or religious nature is by definition much difficult to define and much more difficult to police without crossing the line to impact on freedom of expression."

Further to this, Ferguson went on to suggest that while ISPs had a role to play in monitoring content, placing the onus on them to decide what constituted unlawful hate speech was itself a mistake.

"... making them judge, jury and executioner appears to be placing too much responsibility, not to mention accountability outside the hands of the rightful law enforcement organisation where the expertise for accurate interpretation of the law resides," said Ferguson.

The Home Affairs Committee has not responded to the International Business Times UK's requests for comment.