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BritishMPs urge ISPs to curb sites used by militants

AFP LONDON INTERNET service providers (ISPs) should clamp down on websites used by violent extremists, both Islamists and increasingly the far right, British lawmakers said in a report on Monday.

The Internet is a more significant vehicle for promoting radicalism than prisons, universities or places of worship, and is involved in almost all cases of extremism, parliament’s home affairs committee said. Law enforcement agencies can already order illegal material to be removed from the Internet, but “service providers themselves should be more active in monitoring the material they host,” the report said.

The MPs recommended that the government work with Internet service providers to develop a code of practice on removing extremist material, but acknowledged international co-operation would also be needed.

During the committee’s investigations, it heard complaints from ISPs that it would be “impractical” for them to actively monitor material, citing the sheer volume of online content and implications for freedom of expression.

But security expert Peter Neumann, of King’s College London, told the MPs that political pressure could at least force big Internet companies to do more.

“This is not about freedom of speech. All these websites, whether it is YouTube or Facebook, have their own rules... They are very effective in removing sexual content or copyright content,” he said.

“Why can they not be equally effective at removing, for example, extremist Islamist or extremist rightwing content?” The report comes after four British Islamists admitted to plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange in 2010, having acquired Al-Qaeda materials online. They are due to be sentenced this week. But the committee said violent radicalisation was declining within the Muslim community, and urged more focus on the far right in the wake of attacks in Norway by white supremacist Anders Breivik, which killed 77 people.

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