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Outlaw groups that ferment hate with banning orders for extremist organisations?
Submitted by Alex Helling on 22 April 2015
The Conservatives launched their election manifesto last week and it does not look to have been influenced by the more liberal side of the party when it comes to freedom of speech:
Conservative Election Manifesto Page 63 wrote:We will outlaw groups that foment hate with the introduction of new Banning Orders for extremist organisations. These could be applied to dangerous organisations that fall short of the existing thresholds for proscription under terrorism legislation. To restrict the harmful activities of extremist individuals, we will create new Extremism Disruption Orders. These new powers might, for instance, prevent those who are seeking to radicalise young British people online from using the internet or communicating via social media. We will develop a strategy to tackle the infiltration of extremists into our schools and public services. We will strengthen Ofcom’s role so that tough measures can be taken against channels that broadcast extremist content.
Home secretary Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has been considering some form of banning orders for a couple of years and particularly since British citizens began travelling to Syria to fight. This manifesto pledge seems to go further still in looking to ban organisations that are considered extremist, and to hit individuals for expressing their views if those views are extreme and radicalising. As a manifesto pledge there is little detail about how this would be done in practice.
“As with any manifesto this is very vague, but sounds like a significant intrusion on freedom of speech. How will it be defined if activities are harmful? And if they really are harmful why do they not fall under existing terrorism legislation? There are clear free speech concerns about banning people from using the internet – something some have suggested is a human right – and banning them from social media.
This however is the kind of pledge that will invariably be watered down, and become much more specific, if and when it is actually implemented. We really shall have to wait and see what the wording of the legislation before condemning it. This could ultimately be a moderate and sensible gradation to deal with shades of grey with regards to extremism.”
- Alex Helling
(this is a purely personal opinion and not representative of IDEA)