Human Rights

Fifty terror web pages a day reported to Home Office

The Home Office has received thousands of reports per month through a new public webpage that allows anyone to report material they believe could be linked to terrorist activity. 

The reporting tool, which first went live on 1 July, has had no paid promotion from the government.

Despite this, the tool received 2,675 reports in its first 64 days of operation, a freedom of information request by The Ferret has revealed.

According to officials, these reports contained 3,189 urls and Home Office staff concluded that 2,292 of these were “genuine and contained terrorist or harmful extremist material.”

Thirty per cent of the reports were found not to breach terror laws, although 18 per cent had already been removed from the platform that they were published on.

It is likely that many of the referrals received will be processed by the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU).

The Home Office declined to confirm how many of the reported URLs were added to official CTIRU “block lists,” which most large Internet Service Providers and public bodies use as part of their web filtering services. This makes the material harder to access from filtered UK internet connections.

The government claims that to provide information on how many urls were subsequently blocked would endanger national security, but last year The Open Rights Group estimated that around 58,000 web pages were added to the CTIRU list.

In February 2016, John Hayes MP told Westminster that more than 1,000 web pages were being blocked each week by the CTIRU, and that 70 per cent of the material is related to Daesh.

According to The Open Rights Group, there is no formal appeal process against blocking decisions taken by government officials,  “but if there is concern regarding the filtering of a specific URL containing illegal material, contact should be made with Home Office.”

The full freedom of information response can be found here. Alert readers will  note that the Home Office took nearly two months to respond to this request, when, by law, they are supposed to respond within 20 working days.

Also published on Medium.

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