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Tony Blair's terrorism clampdown: more rules needed to control extreme websites

Public Technology | August 8 2005

The Prime Minister on Friday outlined new security measures at his monthly media briefing, with tactics on targeting extremist websites mentioned but not fleshed out as a concept.

Tony Blair said: "One other point on deportations, once the new grounds take effect, there will be a list drawn up of specific extremist websites, bookshops, networks, centres and particular organisations of concern. Active engagement with any of these will be a trigger for the Home Secretary to consider the deportation of any foreign national."

The Prime Minister's definition of "active engagement" needs further public clarity - as engagement with a website can be as minimal as looking at its web pages, through to logging in as a registered user, through to actually submitting content to the website, to being on the 'staff'' running it as webmaster and content managers. We assume that just looking at a website is unlikely to get you deported, but detailed rules on this point are essential.

And how would the data on who has engaged be gathered? One could hypothesise that police or other government agencies could gain access to ISP logfile data to track IP addresses of website visitors, or even gain access to UK-based web hosting firms' servers to access or take over web hosting accounts and databases.

Mr Blair told journalists that the measures were either being taken now, immediately, or under urgent examination.

He said the Government was launching a short one-month consultation on new grounds for excluding and deporting people from the United Kingdom. They would include fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs or justifying or validating such violence.

The Prime Minister said:
"Let no one be in any doubt that the rules of the games are changing.

"The circumstances of our national security have now self evidently changed and we believe we can get the necessary assurances from the countries to which we will return the deportees against their being subject to torture or ill-treatment."

The Prime Minister went on to confirm that there would be new anti-terror legislation in the autumn, including an offence of condoning or glorifying terrorism which would apply anywhere, not just in the UK.

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