Skip to main content

Online Radicalisation

Volume 639: debated on Monday 16 April 2018

This Government have been clear there should be no safe space online for terrorists and their supporters to radicalise or inspire people. We are working closely with industry, including through the Global Internet Forum, to counter terrorism and to encourage industry to develop innovative solutions to tackle online radicalisation.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the world’s leading internet companies need to do much more to take down violent and terrorist material online, and that if they do not, we should make them?

I do agree with my hon. Friend. It was the Home Office that took the initiative to set up the counter-terrorism internet referral unit, which has seen 300,000 pieces of terrorist propaganda taken down—voluntarily, but taken down none the less. It was the Home Office that worked with ASI Data Science to develop an automatic model, which has a 99.9% accuracy rate. If we can do it, why can those companies not?

I recently held a community meeting to contribute to Mayor Andy Burnham’s consultation on community integration and preventing radical hate speech. One issue that came up was the extent of online hate speech against Islam coming from around the world, and particularly from the United States. Will the Minister say what discussions he is having internationally to ensure that this kind of derogatory and offensive material is taken down as quickly as possible?

The hon. Lady makes a really valid point. One of the challenges is that, while broadcast is obviously covered by Ofcom and so on, some individuals move online and broadcast speeches that would be illegal if they were broadcast under Ofcom’s responsibility. I am due to visit the United States this week, and that is exactly one of the points that I shall be raising, so her question was very timely.

If a relative suspects that a vulnerable family member is being radicalised online, what advice would the Minister give that relative about what would happen to that vulnerable person if they were reported?

First of all, the relative could make a report to the police, the local authority, local safeguarding officers or safeguarding officers at school. That report would then be looked at in conjunction with a Prevent panel. People’s names would not be logged; they would not be part of a deep surveillance operation. They would simply be looked at, and the case would be discussed at a multi-agency level. Over 30% of cases are referred to other safeguarding—it might be domestic abuse or sexual abuse—and about half see no further action taken. So it is all done delicately, with respect for the individual and respect for the community. At the end, we get a good outcome, whereby a significant number of people are given assistance and are no longer radicalised or a threat.

The Minister knows that, with the invention of the internet, radicalisation is now global and crosses international boundaries, so how is he working with our international partners? He will be aware that last week a Labour delegation visited Etidal in Riyadh, which has extraordinary technology to counteract online radicalisation.

In answer to the hon. Gentleman’s question, and the question from the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green), there is no doubt that the only way to curtail such radicalisation is by working with all our international partners, whether in the middle east, Europe or the United States. We have to act together, which is why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary sits on the Global Internet Forum to ensure that we push those countries together. The United Kingdom’s lead has raised awareness and proved that solid solutions can be delivered.