Back in October 2005 this Spy Blog article Terrorism Bill 2005 - part 2 of our comments asked:
Why is there any need for regulation in this area at all ? The existing Acceptable Use Policies of all UK website operators, for example, already means that there are no public "terrorist websites" operating from servers within the United Kingdom.
If the intention is to somehow stop impressionable people from falling into the clutches of terrorist recruiters, then this is already as effective as it will ever be.
If people are already moving within extremist circles, then private websites, especially those hosted abroad, are beyond the competence and legal jurisdiction of the Home Office or the UK Police.
Any attempts to "disrupt" these systems, such as those hosted in, say China, could easily be interpreted as "cyber war", which would damage the UK economy far more than the slight, temporary effect that "disruption" of such sites would have on the terrorists. It would also remove the opportunity for covert surveillance of such "honeypots" for intelligence gathering purposes.
It now turns out that this inept Labour Government's scaremongering and controversial Terrorism Act 2006 section 3 Application of ss. 1 and 2 to internet activity etc.. internet censorship powers, which relate to section 1 "Encouragement of terrorism" and / or section 2. "Dissemination of terrorist publications", have never actually been invoked.
House of Lords
Written answers and statements, 10 February 2010
Baroness Warsi (Shadow Minister (Community Cohesion and Social Action), Communities and Local Government; Conservative)
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many times the police have used powers under section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006 to seek the removal or modification of unlawful terrorist-related material from the internet in each of the last six months.
Lord West of Spithead (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office; Labour)
The Home Office and ACPO (TAM) have set up a new unit, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), which was launched in a pilot capacity on 1 February 2010. The CTIRU is responsible for the co-ordination and execution of voluntary and Section 3 take-down notices. Further details on the CTIRU, including statistics regarding take-downs, will be available in due course.
To date, the preferred route for removing potentially unlawful terrorist content is through informal contact between the police and the internet service provider. This approach has proved effective. As a result, it has not been necessary to use the formal powers given under the Terrorism Act 2006 to seek the removal or modification of unlawful terrorist-related material from the internet.
Note the creation of Yet Another Unaccountable Bureaucratic Quango, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU)
The legal powers under the Terrorism Act 2006, were, typically, and totally unnecessarily, made available to any Police Constable, no matter how ill trained, or ignorant of the internet or of free speech or religious freedom issues.
Why did the original legislation not restrict these legal power only to members of a properly trained unit, dedicated full time to the task, as, hopefully the CTIRU now is ?
Before the Terrorism Act 2006, UK based internet and telecommunications companies always cooperated voluntarily with the Police, and they appear to have done so since.
Before the Terrorism Act 2006, foreign based internet companies had no obligation to cooperate and neither do they now.
What was the point of it all ?
Why not simply repeal this Act, with no loss in effectiveness whatsoever against real terrorists, and thereby nullifying somewhat, the propaganda victory which these repressive powers handed to the terrorists ?