UK anti-terrorist police say almost 6,000 pieces of violent extremist content have been removed from the internet since 2010 – but a former security minister claims they have only scratched the surface.
It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron and Culture Secretary Maria Miller prepare to hold high-level talks with internet firms – including Facebook, Google, YouTube and Microsoft – on Monday to crackdown on harmful online content.
Ms Miller’s aides said she is acting in response to concerns over the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich and the discovery of child abuse images on the computer of Mark Bridger, the killer of April Jones.
It emerged that the defendants in those cases had terrorist and child abuse imagery and documents stored on their computers.
The Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) told Sky News that since the unit was formed in February 2010 “over 5,700 individual pieces of online terrorist content have been removed from the internet” by anti-terrorist police.
It has also filtered almost 1,000 illegal extremist links from public computers in libraries and universities over the same period.
CTIRU is part of the Counter Terrorism Command and holds the national remit for assessing terrorist and violent extremist material online.
The kind of material targeted included online publications such as Inspire magazine which is made by al Qaeda and offers instruction manuals for making home-made bombs. Police are also taking down lectures from hate preachers who incite people to commit acts of violence.
But former security minister Baroness Neville Jones said not enough is being done.
She told Sky News: “I should think it’s a very small proportion of what’s actually available, because the whole business of tracking it down and then taking it off is quite complicated and actually what we want to get to is it not being transmitted. So I think there’s a further place to go.”
Inspire magazine was said to have been read by the Boston bombers as well as the gang who were sentenced last week for plotting to attack an EDL rally in Dewsbury.
They also had a large number of files containing speeches from an al Qaeda preacher.
Passing sentence, Judge Nicholas Hillard QC said the group was inspired by “freely available extremist material”.
The Government wants internet companies to do more to block politically extremist material and child abuse content.
Security minister James Brokenshire said: “They do this every day. Material is flagged to them that is inappropriate and its there for about getting those companies to assess information in the way they currently do but in the context of extremist material.”
However, questions remain over where to draw the line on censorship.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg told Sky News: “If they are talking about ideas and the discussion of ideas, and those ideas simply being banned because we feel according to our limited understanding that individuals are being radicalised based on what this one person has said, I think that’s an extremely narrow-minded view of the human psyche and how it operates.”
It is also argued that people must already be radicalised to be looking for such material and that determined extremists can get round blocks on websites.
But the issue of online radicalisation is now clearly a focus for the Government and the police who fear the material available offers a dangerous mix of inspiration and instruction to potential future terrorists.
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Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1104253