Criminalising (Hateful) Extremism in the UK: Critical Reflections From Free Speech
Keywords:Terrorism, Hateful Extremism, Liberalism, Human Rights, Free Speech, Freedom of Expression, John Stuart Mill
The UK has a comprehensive arsenal of counter-terror law. The Terrorism Act 2000, for example, outlaws the membership of a proscribed terror group, as per s.11; and support for a proscribed terror group, as per s.12. The legislation also criminalises the preparation of terror attacks, such as possession for terrorist purposes, as per s.57; and the collection of information, as per s.58. Following the 7/7 terror attacks in London in 2005 the UK passed the Terrorism Act 2006 outlawing, for example, the encouragement of terrorism, including the glorification of terrorism, as per s.1; and the dissemination of terrorist publications, as per s.2. But the UK’s existing counter-terror legislation does not seem to go far enough in deterring violent extremism that falls short of terrorism. In February 2021, therefore, the UK’s independent Commission on Countering Extremism suggested further legislative reform to this area. In the UK there is freedom of expression, guaranteed by Article 10(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, Article 10(2) of the ECHR permits a necessary interference with speech on the grounds of the prevention of disorder and crime. Indeed, historically, liberalism, which underpins much of human rights law, has also permitted limitations on the freedom of expression. Are the Commission’s proposals to curtail further the free speech of extremists compliant with the jurisprudence on free speech and the philosophy of liberalism upon which much of the law of human rights is grounded? Without being able to assess the Commission’s suggested reforms within every element of free speech, this piece examines many of its important facets, such as the responsibility of the rights-holder, the speaker, and the certainty upon which the law limiting the free speech is authorised. The findings of this piece are that the proposals of the Commission respect the UK’s law on free speech and its related theories of liberalism.
Amarasingam, A. & Argentino, M. (2020). The QAnon conspiracy theory: a security threat in the making? CTC Sentinel, 13, 37-44 https://ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/CTC-SENTINEL-072020.pdf
Baele, S.J. Brace, L. & Coan, T.G. (2021). Variations on a theme? Comparing 4chan, 8kun, and Other chans’ Far-Right “/pol” Boards. Perspectives on Terrorism, 15(1), 65-80. https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/binaries/content/assets/customsites/perspectives-on-terrorism/2021/issue-1/baele-et-al.pdf
Basit, A. (2020). The COVID-19 Pandemic: An opportunity for terrorist groups? Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, 12, 7-12.
Blanc, E. & Tiran, A. (2018). Jean-Baptiste Say on political power (1793-1832). In Mesca, M. (ed), Power in Economic Thought (pp.293-320). Palgrave Macmillan.
Campbell, T. (2006). Rights: A Critical Introduction. Routledge.
Commission for Countering Extremism. (2019). Challenging hateful extremism summary version. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/836540/Challenging_Hateful_Extremism_-_summary_report.pdf
Commission for Countering Extremism. (2021). Operating with impunity hateful extremism: the need for a legal framework: summary version. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963157/CCE_Operating_with_Impunity_Summary.pdf
Council of Europe. (2005). Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/196?module=treaty-detail&treatynum=196
Counter Terrorism Policing. (2020). Feuerkrieg Division (FKD) proscribed as terrorist group. https://www.counterterrorism.police.uk/fkd-proscribed/
Crawford, B., Keen, F., & Guillermo Suarez-Tangil, G. (2021). Memes, radicalisation, and the promotion of violence on Chan Sites. King’s Research Portal, 1-10. https://nms.kcl.ac.uk/guillermo.suarez-tangil/papers/2021icwsm-memes.pdf
de Simone, D. (2020). Neo-Nazi group led by 13-year-old boy to be banned. BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53392036
Dicey, A.V. (1982). An introduction to the study of aw of the constitution. Liberty Fund.
Etzioni, A. (1995). Too many rights: too few responsibilities. In Walzer, M. (ed), Towards a Global Civil Society (pp.95-106). Berghahn Books.
Faure Walker, R. (2019). ‘The UK’s Prevent Counter-Terrorism Strategy appears to promote rather than prevent violence. Journal of Critical Realism, 18(5), 487-512.
Fuller, L.L. (1969). The Morality of Law. Yale University Press.
Gayle, D. (2019). Christchurch attack: tech firms must clean up platforms – Javid. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/16/christchurch-attack-tech-firms-must-clean-up-platforms-says-javid
Glendon, M.A. (1991). Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse. Free Press.
Grierson, J. & Dodd, V. Police declare stabbing in Surrey a terrorism incident. The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/17/oldham-man-arrested-on-suspicion-of-sending-malicious-communications
Hall, J. (2021). The Terrorism Acts in 2019: Report of the Independent Reviewer on the Operation of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/972261/THE_TERRORISM_ACTS_IN_2019_REPORT_Accessible.pdf.
HM Government. (2015). Counter-Extremism Strategy. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470088/51859_Cm9148_Accessible.pdf
HM Government. (2018). CONTEST: The United Kingdom’s Strategy for Countering Terrorism. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/716907/140618_CCS207_CCS0218929798-1_CONTEST_3.0_WEB.pdf
Hoffman, B., Ware, J., & Shapiro, E. (2020). Assessing the threat of Incel violence’ Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 43(7), 565-587.
Home Office. (2020). Report looking at how hateful extremists have been exploiting the current pandemic. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/report-looking-at-how-hateful-extremists-have-been-exploiting-the-current-pandemic
Home Office. (2021). Proscribed Terrorist Groups and Organisations. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proscribed-terror-groups-or-organisations--2/proscribed-terrorist-groups-or-organisations-accessible-version
Hope Not Hate. (2021). State of Hate 2021: Backlash, Conspiracies and Confrontation https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/state-of-hate-2021-final-2.pdf
House of Commons Home Affairs Committee. (2016). Radicalisation: the Counter-Narrative and Identifying the Tipping Point https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/documents/commons-committees/home-affairs/Correspondence-17-19/Radicalisation-the-counter-narrative-and-identifying-the-tipping-point-government-response-Eighth-Report-26-17-Cm-9555.pdf
House of Lords House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights. (2016). Counter-Extremism. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201617/jtselect/jtrights/105/105.pdf.
Jowell, J. (2019). The Rule of Law. In Jowell, J. & O’Cinneide, C. (eds), The Changing Constitution (Chapter 1). Oxford University Press.
Kalil, I. (2021). Politics of fear in Brazil: Far-Right conspiracy theories on COVID-19. Global Discourse. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bup/gd/pre-prints/content-rgld20210033
Locke, J. (1988). Second Treatise of Government. In Locke, J. Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge University Press.
Locke, J. (2014). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Wordsworth’s Classics.
Locke, J. (2019a). A Letter Concerning Toleration. In Locke, J. Letters Concerning Toleration. (pp.33-65). Alpha Editions.
Locke, J. (2019b). A Third Letter for Toleration. In Locke, J. Letters Concerning Toleration. (pp.117-379). Alpha Editions.
Lowe, D. (2020). Far-Right extremism: is it legitimate freedom of expression, hate crime, or terrorism? Terrorism and Political Violence 1-21 https://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2020.1789111
Mill, J.S. (1991). On Liberty. In Mill, J.S. On Liberty and Other Essays (pp.5-128). Oxford University Press.
Morris, N. (2013). Woolwich aftermath: Home Secretary Theresa May threatens ban for online radical Islamists - even those who don’t advocate violence. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/woolwich-aftermath-home-secretary-theresa-may-threatens-ban-online-radical-islamists-even-those-who-don-t-advocate-violence-8632652.html
Rawls, J. (1971). A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press.
Raz, J. (1997). The Rule of Law and its virtue. The Law Quarterly Review, 93, 195-211.
Renieris, E. (2009). Combating incitement to terrorism on the internet: comparative approaches in the United States and United Kingdom and the need for an international solution’ Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 11, 673-709.
Rousseau, J-J. (1984). A Discourse on Inequality. Penguin Classics.
Rudner, M. (2017). ‘Electronic Jihad’: the Internet as Al Qaeda’s catalyst for global terror. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 40, 10-25.
Turner, I. (2019). Individualism in times of crisis – theorising a shift away from classic liberal attitudes to human rights post 9/11. In Rubniewski, M. & Chmielinski, M. (eds), The Philosophy of Legal Change: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Processes (chapter 14). Routledge.
United Nation. (2006). Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. https://www.un.org/counterterrorism/un-global-counter-terrorism-strategy.
United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. (2016). Global Survey of the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005) by Member States https://www.un.org/sc/ctc/news/document/global-survey-of-the-implementation-of-security-council-resolution-1624-2005-by-member-states-2016/
Waterson, J. (2019). Facebook removed 1.5m videos of New Zealand terror attack in first 24 hours. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/17/facebook-removed-15m-videos-new-zealand-terror-attack
Copyright (c) 2023 Ian Turner
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The JD Journal for Deradicalization uses a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND) Licence. You are free to share - copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format under the following conditions:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, andindicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.