asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the answers by the Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 7 January 2004 (Official Report, cols. 169-72), whether they are now in a position to seek the closure of websites which provide personal details of active opponents of fascist and racist parties. [HL7429]
The Home Office is currently working with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service to review criminal activity relating to the websites of various extremist groups and consider what further opportunities may exist to take action against both websites and those responsible for them.
Many extremist groups take care to ensure that their websites remain inside the boundaries of the law and, although offensive to many, the material published may therefore not actually be illegal. However, effective voluntary arrangements exist with internet service providers in this country, who may be willing to remove material from their servers which is not illegal but is offensive if it breaches the terms and conditions of their service.
If a website that is hosted by a UK internet service provider publishes illegal material, we would expect it to stop hosting the site on request. There are challenges arising from the fact that these websites are often hosted abroad, and the ISP operates under different legislation to ours.
However, where material that incites criminal offences in the UK has been published or if illegal material was uploaded from the UK, those responsible may be prosecuted in this country, regardless of where the website is hosted.