Although Parliament has not yet come back after the summer recess, this Parliamentary Answer has been published, which shows just how confused and out of its deoth the Home Office is when it comes to new legislation and the Internet:
"House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 12 Sept 2005 (pt 89
Improper Use of Internet
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will list (a) UK and (b) EU (i) initiatives, (ii) programmes and (iii) laws under discussion concerning improper use of the internet. 
Paul Goggins: The Government have always taken the view that all legislation must be robust enough to deal with offences whether they are committed on or off line. To this end there is a variety of legislation which deals with offences which can be commissioned utilising computer systems and networks, but which contain no specific reference to use of the internet."
So why is the NuLabour Home Office planning to introduce Interent specific legislation regarding terrorist related activities which are already criminal offences under existing draconian, catch all anti-terrorism laws ? Is this yet another case of "We Must Be Seen To Be Doing Something"
"Initiatives and programmes under discussion on which the Home Office leads on this issue include: educating computer users about the risks of fraud committed using the internet through advice on the Home Office website on avoiding internet fraud; we have published jointly with APACS (the Association of Payment Clearing Services) a leaflet on card safety which includes a section on using cards safely over the internet;
We have already discussed this leaflet,"Shredding the risk of ID fraud" - Home Office ID Fraud / ID Cards disinformation
N.B. There is no way to use the Government's proposed ID Cards securely over the internet. What is adequate protection for a credit card, is simply of no use for the far more lucrative target of an ID Card, which, due to the inflexibility of its reliance on biometric identifiers "trhe password that can never be changed, even when it has been compromised".
the Home Office has also created and maintains the "e-tailing" mini site www.crimereduction.gov.uk/etailing00.htm, which provides information to help both businesses and consumers protect themselves specifically when using the internet; and finally the Home Secretary's Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet seeks to protect children using the internet, and from abuse fuelled by criminal misuse of new technologies, and promote safe use of the internet.
In respect of legislation under discussion being developed by the Home Office, the Government and the opposition are working together to develop three new offences that could relate to terrorists' use of the internet. These are: (1) Indirect incitement—covering any method of making a message available to the public which is intended to encourage others to engage in terrorist activities, while not directly calling upon them to do so; (2) Training in terrorist methods and techniques, and in making or using hazardous substances for terrorist purposes. This offence could be used if individuals take advantage of the internet to carry out such training; (3) Acts preparatory. This would target individuals and groups involved in preparing, instigating or conspiring to commit an act of terrorism. Where the internet is used in this process, such improper use could be targeted. In all three cases, intent to cause or facilitate terrorist activities would have to be proved.
Could anyone please explain why
"(2) (2) Training in terrorist methods and techniques,"
is not aleady covered by existing legislation ?
- "54. - (1) A person commits an offence if he provides instruction or training in the making or use of-
(b) explosives, or
(c) chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
(2) A person commits an offence if he receives instruction or training in the making or use of-
(b) explosives, or
(c) chemical, biological or nuclear weapons."
Which already covers everything that is of use to a terrorist - it is not physically possible to "terrorise" large numbers of people with just, say, a knife or a blunt instrument.
Surely the words "provides" or "receives instruction or training" are broad enough terms which already cover the use of the internet ?
How is it possible to prove "intent to cause or facilitate terrorist activities" for indirect incitement to the criminal standard of proof "beyond reasonable doubt" ?
Is the government intending to lower the burden of proof, and literally create Orwellian Thought Crimes and to infringe people's right to free speech ?
In addition, the Fraud Bill is seeking to ensure that use of computers or the internet to commit or facilitate fraud is criminalised in legislation, the Identity Cards Bill includes an offence of tampering with the National Identity Register including the unauthorised modification of its contents by electronic means, and Government will seek to make amendments to the Computer Misuse Act 1990 when parliamentary time allows.
Why does the Home Office think that the proposed National Identity Register computer systems should be allowed anywhere near the insecure Inernet ?
If there is no physsical or logical connection between the Internet and the National Idenity Register, then the controversial section 31 of the Identity Cards Bill: Tampering with the Register etc. does not apply to the subject of this Parliamentary Answer i.e. the Interne.
If the two systems are ever connected, something which would break all the existing UK Government IT security standards and certifications, then the knaock on effect would be to criminilaise large sections of the Internet, both in the UK and abroad.
Due to the inept wording of this section 31, a penalty of up to 10 years in prison could be levied against anyone responsible for , any errors, mistakes, internet traffic congestion queues etc., not just of the core National Identity Register systems themselves, but of any systems connected to it i.e. anywhere on the Internet !
- "3 (b) where it makes it more difficult or impossible for such information to be retrieved in a legible form from a computer on which it is stored by the Secretary of State, or contributes to making that more difficult or impossible.
(4) It is immaterial for the purposes of this section—
(a) whether the conduct constituting the offence, or any of it, took place in the United Kingdom; or
(b) in the case of conduct outside the United Kingdom, whether it is conduct of a British citizen."
12 Sept 2005 : Column 2569W
Within the EU the Safer Internet Programme is designed to complement legislative approaches to combating illegal and harmful material on the internet, by stimulating and supporting self-help and self-regulatory approaches. The original €38.3 million programme between 1999 and 2004: financed projects to create a safer environment via a European network of hot-lines to report illegal content; encouraged self-regulation and codes of conduct; developed filtering and rating systems; and encouraged awareness actions. The new programme, Safer Internet Plus, will run from 2005 to 2008 and has a €45 million budget. The proposed Safer Internet Plus programme aims to both build on its predecessor's achievements and meet new threats."
How do we know if these initiatives are actually working properly and are not simply a waste of money ?
There has been no let up in illegal and obnoxious email spam or blog spam, advertising illegal products or services for sale via websites, for example.