There was a small ripple around the internet this morning caused by the Home office opening up the Beta terrorist reporting tool.

To what extent the reports from this tool are monitored is unclear, but I suspect this will cause more problems that it solves.

Even before we consider the rather broad definition the government has for illegal material (which on the face of it could cover a number of science and religious texts), I can see the tool quickly becoming buried under false positives – whether through over sensitive citizens or through plain vindictiveness – which would need to be investigated.

Even if no further action is taken after the investigation, the cost in both time and resources must surely represent a significant risk that things that are actually a threat will be missed.

3 thoughts on “Reporting online terrorists

  1. Of course, those of us with a more classically liberal point of view would suggest that saying/thinking a thing is separate from actually *doing* a thing…

    … and there’s already perfectly good legislation in place to handle that.

  2. The issue I’ve always had is with “information likely to be useful to a terrorist”. Knowing that the PM lives at 10 Downing Street, SW1A 2AA is pretty useful. Knowing that petrol is flammable would seem pretty useful. Knowing that Heathrow Airport check-in is extremely crowded during the summer holidays would seem useful.

    Where’s the bar?

  3. Precisely.. pretty much any piece of information could be classed as “information likely to be useful to a terrorist” and so fall foul of this law since it takes no account of context.

    Given that it is fairly safe to assume that the people who draft these laws are not stupid, a cynical person could conclude that the legislation is deliberately broad.

    Perhaps to provide a useful tool to quash any opposition or dissenting voices…

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