Britain Moves To Criminalize Reading Extremist Material On The Internet

440px-Official_portrait_of_Amber_Rudd_crop_2England flagFor years, civil libertarians have warned that Great Britain has been in a free fall from the criminalization of speech to the expansion of the surveillance state.  Now the government is pursuing a law that would make the repeated viewing of extremist Internet sites a crime punishable to up to 15 years in prison.  It appears that the government is not satiated by their ever-expanding criminalization of speech. They now want to criminalize even viewing sites on the Internet.  As always, officials are basically telling the public to “trust us, we’re the government.”  UK home secretary Amber Rudd is pushing the criminalization of reading as part of her anti-radicalization campaign . . . which turns out to be an anti-civil liberties campaign.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here).  Even the Home Secretary has been accused of hate speech for criticizing immigrant workers.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously called for greater government control of the Internet.  Now, the government not only would make reading material on the Internet a crime, but would not necessarily tell you what sites will be deemed the ultimate click bait.  Rudd told a Conservative Party conference that she wants to crackdown on people “who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions.”   So sites deemed “far-right propaganda” (but not far-left propaganda) could lead to your arrest — leaving the government with a sweeping and ambiguous mandate.

The law would move from criminalizing the downloading of information to simply reading it.  The move confirms the long criticism of civil libertarians that the earlier criminalization would just be the start of an ever-expanding government regulation of sites and speech.  Rudd admits that she wants to arrest those who just read material but do not actually download the material.

In the past, the government assumed near total discretion in determining who had a “reasonable excuse” for downloading information.

Britain has long relied on the presumed benevolence of the government in giving its sweeping authority in the surveillance and regulation of speech, including the media.  This move however is a quantum shift in government controls over speech and information.  Indeed, this comes the closest to criminalization not just speech but thought. It is a dangerous concept and should be viewed as disqualifying for anyone who want to hold (or retain) high office.
What is particularly striking is that this new law seeks to create a new normal in a society already desensitized to government controls and speech crimes.  There is no pretense left in this campaign —  just a smiling face rallying people to the cause of thought control.
Sound familiar?
1984-Big-Brother“We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
George Orwell, 1984

140 thoughts on “Britain Moves To Criminalize Reading Extremist Material On The Internet”

  1. England was always paternalist, but free. Englishmen were generally proud of their country’s heritage, and with good reason. They were moreover highly individualistic. It is therefore difficult to understand why they have been content to let successive governments tread on them. The country is now a socialist cesspit, and a haven for savages. In common with the continental European countries, it has also become a police state.

    The English beheaded a king. It should not be difficult to overthrow the present tyranny.

    1. Carl-Edward – England has had a series of civil wars, including the War of the Roses which ended with the Tudors on the throne.

  2. Hail Britania. Briania rules the waves.
    They have a Queeny and a bunch of dumb dolts who worshop Queeny. It is a swamp. It cannot be drained.

  3. The current Government is at best under life support–so I would not put much stock into what this Government says or does…..

  4. So if I as a minority read stormfront just to know what some crazy troglodytes that frequent the site may be plotting, in this future society I too would be jailed. We should be scared to even browse to do our own investigation now?? I’m all for taking these hateful extremist sites off the web that fan the flames of hatred, whether from religious extremists, supremacist extremists or anarchist extremists, but as with narcotics you should prosecute the dealers, not the users (or in this case the browsers). Her speeches on social media, following the Manchester-tragedy, have made me question how well she understands how the internet works.

  5. “Congress (i.e. government) shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,…”

    The American Founders revealed that natural and god-given rights and freedoms existed before government was established and that government was limited, not the rights of citizens. Nature and God are universal and infinite. Every sentient animate biological entity enjoys the freedom of speech as referenced by the American Founders.

    1st Amendment –

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  6. Brits need to rebel. First, remove or kill off the Royals. Then the House of Lards. House of Crisco would be better. Adopt a Constitution and include a Second Amendment about the right to arm bears.

  7. That is the inevitable conclusion when the people grant their government the right to police their speech. It’s typically started in the name of good, only the trouble is, the government gets to define what’s “good.”

    Who would Liberals ban? Who would Conservatives ban? Do you really want to give someone else the power to tell you what you can say or read or write? Our founders felt that freedom was superior to tyranny. I agree with them. Let’s not spoil it, shall we?

    1. The general public is commonly cud chewingly indifferent to this. One vector of his seems to be the objects of internal security types who should know better. The other is the usual schoolmarms.

  8. Why stop at criminalizing the reading of “extremist” material–to be defined by the Leftists, of course? Why not just criminalize any “extremist thoughts?” There is no end to Leftist agenda. It goes beyond total control and total domination.

    1. The same types are abroad here. They haven’t quite captured our non-prog party or the legal profession. Give them time.

  9. Is JT surprised that socialism leads to the loss of civil liberties? The end product of socialism is that the state controls almost all aspects of one’s life. I think civil libertarianism is in direct conflict with socialism. I believe Turley is center left, but in recnt years has been having problems as the extreme left collides with civil liberties.

      1. You are confusing party names with actual ideology. Socialism is an insidious disease. You apparently were affected by it a long time ago.

                1. No. I meant what I wrote.

                  Enough of this blather. The fool may have the last word.

                  1. The fool had his last word, but he will arise to once again play the part of the fool.

                    1. Please don’t. If you must, just wake up and die right. Taxpayers bailing out the global financial sector is Capitalism? What a dumb schmuck you are. If you think socialism is so bad, why do you allow the 1% the privilege? Socialism of the risk while they privatize the profit. Clearly, the “insidious disease” is nothing more than your rank ignorance and stupidity.

                    2. Bluto, I note your brutish inability to respond intelligently regarding the various economic systems. Instead your starved brain permits a trite emotional outburst. Get an education and then let’s talk.

    1. You’re attributing this problem to council housing estates and the National Health Service?

        1. Kinda dumb, Allan. A succession of British ministries since 1979 has made it a point to liquidate inventories of state industry and public housing. Why if ‘socialism’ were the problem, would you have controls on public debate increasing? (While we’re at it, you might just show your work).

          1. DSS trends move in more than one direction over time so one has to look at an entire time line not at your specific whim which seems to be all you have to offer.

  10. Brits are much more compliant than we Americans. But, even if they wanted to revolt, they are unarmed.

      1. Ken Doll – Lois Lerner ring any bells in your empty head? This is a non partisan issue.

        1. This is a non partisan issue.

          You’re proceeding in your remarks as if partisan Democrats have neutral procedural standards about the conduct of public agencies. They have no such thing, and are emotionally incapable of composing them. There are merely improvisations which provide excuses for them to demand what they want.

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