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May threatens ban on 'hate-inciting' radicals, even if they don't promote violence

Right, so you'll be wanting even more power then?

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Radical groups should be banned to prevent them inspiring others to violence, even if they're not promoting violence themselves, according to Home Secretary Theresa May.

Currently the UK Home Secretary can ban any group overtly promoting violent rebellion, and has successfully done so in the past. A new task force led by the prime minister will consider extending that power to cover organisations "inciting hatred and division" just in case armchair extremists decide to take the next logical step.

The problem is that while violence is relatively easy to define, any extension to the Home Secretary's existing powers is going to face serious interpretive issues. Working out what constitutes "hatred and division" is going to be hazardous at best, but last week's events have lent considerable weight to those politicians of a more authoritarian bent.

Speaking on the BBC Theresa May confirmed that 5,500 postings calling for violent jihad had already been scrubbed from the internet by police, but – according to May – this isn't enough, as messages promoting hatred without actively inciting violence remain uncensored.

Certainly Ofcom has a hard time keeping broadcast TV channels clear of hatred-promoting material, regularly censuring channels which broadcast a call to arms. It appears that smaller channels broadcasting in minority languages feel safe in the apparent belief that if it's not in English, the regulator won't notice.

The comments came alongside the attempted revival of the Snoopers' Charter, which would require ISPs to log users' emails and web traffic just as mobile phone networks currently log calls, messages and the location of their customers.

Advocates of both measures will be hoping last week's horrific murder of an off-duty British soldier in Woolwich will have hardened public opinion.

Nobody is claiming that any of these snooping measures would have prevented those events, but it's too good an opportunity to miss for those wishing to push legislation through. ®

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