The United Kingdom has put in place several strategies and laws to prevent the misuse of the internet by terrorists. Most notably, the Terrorism Act 2000, in conjunction with the Terrorism Act 2006, serves as a guideline to all legal actions and strategies on this specific matter. In 2019, the UK Parliament passed the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act, which outlaws the viewing and downloading of terrorist content online. Additionally, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2015, which refers to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (the original 2014 DRIPA Act having been repealed) provides a legal context for governmental prevention of the use of the internet for terrorist purposes. The CONTEST program, which is the UK’s general counter-terrorism strategy run by the Office for Security and Counterterrorism, aims to “reduce the risk to the UK and its citizens overseas from terrorism”. The UK National Cyber Security Strategy, on the other hand, is a five-year government plan aimed specifically at strengthening the security of the UK’s use of cyberspace. The Strategy is based on three pillars: Defense, Deterrence and Development. The British government acknowledges in the Strategy the rise of a computer-literate generation engaging in extremism online, and challenging legacy counter-terrorism regulations.
STRATEGIES, POLICIES AND LAWS
CONTEST is the United Kingdom’s strategy for countering terrorism. The strategy is based on four different pillars – the 4 P’s – Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare.
This five-year strategy aims to strengthen the security of the UK cyber-space. It is based on three pillars: Defense, Deterrence and Development.
The Investigatory Powers Act is currently being reviewed for approval. It allows government agencies to gather data and to keep records in order to find where a particular device is connected to.
The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act of 2015 gives internet companies power to retain and keep data, and obliges them to follow a directive regarding the terrorist threat.
The Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act of 2011 imposes terrorism prevention and investigation measures.
The UK government’s website allows individuals to anonymously report illegal or harmful information found on the internet.
The Act amends the Terrorism Act of 2000 and the Terrorism Act of 2006. Section 3 on “Obtaining or viewing material over the Internet” makes it an offense to “view, or otherwise access, by means of the internet” any terrorist material. The law criminalizes the “downloading” of the material, except when (a) “at the time of the person’s action or possession the person did not know, and had no reason to believe, that the document or record in question contained, or was likely to contain, information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or” (b) “the person’s action or possession was for the purposes of (i) carrying out work as a journalist, or (ii) academic research.”
The Counter-Terrorism Act of 2008 makes it a criminal offence to elicit or attempt to elicit information about members of the Armed Forces, intelligence services, and other police personnel.
The Terrorism Act of 2006 includes a provision that considers incitement to and glorification of terrorism as a criminal offence. It aims to disrupt the capability of terrorist groups to recruit and train potential members.
The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 amends the Terrorism Act of 2000, extending measures regarding terrorism and security.
The Terrorism Act of 2000 supersedes and repeals the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1996. It includes a broad and provisory definition of Terrorism, provides a list of proscribed terrorist organizations, and gives law enforcement powers to act to counter terrorism, without a reason or suspicion.
This Unit is responsible for the removal of unlawful content from the internet. CTIRU works together with internet service providers to identify illegal terrorist content that is against their terms and conditions. The Unit follows the legal framework of the Terrorism Act of 2000.
GCHQ works together with the UK intelligence services, MI5 and MI6.
The NCCU is responsible of the country’s response to cyber-crime. It assists the National Crime Agency and works to prevent cyber-attacks.
RICU is a British government organisation that develops strategic communications. It is based at the Office for Security and Counter-terrorism (OSCT) at the Home Office.
The SIS (Mi6) is the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom. It gathers intelligence and develops foreign relations to help secure the country at a national and international level.
NaCTSO is a police unit that works with the UK Home Office. It assists the “protect and prepare strands of the government’s counter terrorism strategy”.