Here we go again. In this heartwarming article in today’s Guardian newspaper, British MPs on the Home Affairs Committee have decided that the internet is the most significant factor in the radicalisation of violent extremists and conclude that Something Must Be Done.
One paragraph leapt out at me:
“The Commons home affairs committee says internet service providers need to be as effective at removing material that promotes violent extremism as they are in removing content that is sexual or breaches copyright.” (My emphasis.)
Most of us are aware of the recent dogfight in the US about the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws to crack down on copyright infringement and, as a result, there is a somewhat belated but steadily increasing outcry in Europe about the imminent imposition of ACTA across the continent.
I have written before about how such laws provide the military-intelligence complex with the perfect stalking horse for a panoptic surveillance state, and the campaigning writer, Cory Doctorow, summed it up beautifully when he wrote that “you can’t make a system that prevents spying by secret police and allows spying by media giants”.
And, lo, it is now apparently coming to pass. The Parliamentary half-wits are now proposing to use commercial legislation such as the utterly undemocratic ACTA as a benchmark for countering potential terrorists and extremists. Might they have failed to notice the plethora of existing counter-terrorism and eavesdropping legislation, put in place for this very purpose and already much used and abused by a wide range of public bodies in the UK?
This yet again highlights the mission-creepy Big Brother corporatist group-think. Rather than having to spell it out in boring old linear text, here is some useful linkage — what I like to think of as 3-D writing:
Protester = activist = domestic extremist = violent extremist = terrorist
I’m sure you can see where I am heading. To name but a few notorious abuses, we already live in a world where western governments and spy agencies collude in the kidnapping, torture and assassination of alleged terrorist suspects; the NDAA now endorses these practices within the US; British police spy on innocent protest groups for years; legitimate protesters can be “kettled”, beaten up and maced; activists can be pre-emptively arrested as easily in the UK as in Syria; and where American politicians want to designate the high-tech publishing organisation Wikileaks as a terrorist group.
There is an old aphorism that one man’s terrorist was another man’s freedom fighter. I think the time has come for an update:
One man’s terrorist is another man’s activist.
And we are all increasingly at risk.