Thursday 22 February 2018

May planning to block access to radical websites

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Getty Images

Gordon Rayner

The British government will consider new powers to block access to extremist websites if internet companies fail to act over online radicalisation, Theresa May has made clear.

The British prime minister said last night that her preferred option to combat extremism being spawned online was for internationally agreed regulation, but if that fails she is prepared to go it alone.

Mrs May also said Muslim women should be free to choose whether to wear burkas but risk being treated as "second-class citizens" if they do not learn English.

She said it was vital for Muslim women to be able to "participate fully in our society" after making a speech in which she called for better integration of minority communities as one of the solutions to combating terrorism.

Mrs May has said that the internet can provide a "safe space" for terrorist recruitment, and the perpetrators of Saturday's attack on London are said to have become radicalised after watching videos by hate preachers online. Mrs May secured an agreement at last month's G7 summit for world leaders to put pressure on Facebook, Google and other internet companies to address the problem and stop material such as bomb-making manuals being circulated online.

Mrs May said: "I think it is important we do get together internationally and look at the possibility of regulating cyberspace because what has developed as generally a huge benefit for people, is being misused because it's being used as a tool in helping to put together attacks."

However, Mrs May said she would bring in legislation to make Britain "the safest place for people online" if she did not secure the agreements she is seeking. Aides confirmed that Mrs May has not ruled out the idea of legislation that would enable the government to block access to extremist material.

She said one of her first priorities if she is re-elected on Thursday will be to set up a Commission on Counter-Extremism to review ways of preventing radicalisation. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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