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Internet: Terrorism

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 19 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will take steps to regulate the hosting of websites which contain information on bomb-making. (149239)

[holding answer 16 July 2007]: This is a matter of concern across Europe. The European Commission has indicated that it will propose amending the Framework Decision on combating Terrorism to criminalise the incitement to terrorism and the intentional transmission of information useful to terrorism, such as bomb-making instructions. A conference was held by the European Commission in March to discuss these proposals, at which officials from the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office participated. Government officials continue to be engaged in discussions.

There are provisions in the Terrorism Act 2006 to cover the hosting of websites which contain information on bomb-making. Under section 1, it is an offence to publish a statement that is likely to be understood as encouraging terrorism. Under section 2, it is an offence to disseminate a terrorist publication. These offences could cover the act of making available information on bomb-making on a website if the elements of the offences are satisfied.

In addition, sections 3 and 4 of the Act establish an internet ‘Notice and Takedown’ procedure under which those such as content providers, editors and hosts of websites can be served with a notice requiring them to remove from public view or amend material which is considered to be unlawfully terrorism-related.

Where the position of those who host websites is concerned, the Electronic Commerce Directive (Terrorism Act 2006) Regulation 2007, which implements the Electronic Commerce Directive in relation to the Terrorism Act, provides that where a host has actual knowledge that it is hosting unlawful terrorism-related material and it has failed to take down the material expeditiously on acquiring such knowledge, it may be liable under the Terrorism Act.