back to article One click and you're out: UK makes it an offence to view terrorist propaganda even once

It will be an offence to view terrorist material online just once – and could incur a prison sentence of up to 15 years – under new UK laws. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill was granted Royal Assent yesterday, updating a previous Act and bringing new powers to law enforcement to tackle terrorism. But a …


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yup....the STASI has DEFINITELY arrived in the UK......

      You forgot Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Yup....the STASI has DEFINITELY arrived in the UK......

        While you are at it, please also include reverend Ian Paisley.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Yup....the STASI has DEFINITELY arrived in the UK......

          And George Washington! That blighter took up arms against the Crown! Not to mention tax evasion, and the most heinous, conspiracy to waste tea!

  1. steviebuk Silver badge

    Knobs part 2

    Jesus fucking christ. I understand where they are coming from but it just pisses me off when they make these laws but don't understand how the pissing Internet works.

    This is a rant.

    So people will just use VPNs. Or people will be malicious and craft sites or e-mails with links in to such material. That's it, you've viewed it once, prison for you as the site or video auto plays with no option to stop it because, again, they've crafted it like those annoying pops up that stop you closing them.

    The law just isn't fucking workable, unless of course, the person is already on a watch list.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Knobs part 2

      "Jesus fucking christ."

      Yes, another terrorist leader and look at what become of him and his followers.

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    So we're all terrorists now?

    I'm sending anything I accidentally look at to my MP just to make sure.

  3. y-t

    No Problem

    All you need is a law, that stipulates, that links and websites with terrorist content must be labelled.

    Then the guilty party is the one who has not fulfilled his obligation to label.

    This is what the EU Gouverment would do.


  4. Eddy Ito

    This would never work in the US as it would ban many government websites like TSA, NSA, and CHS as well as most politician's websites.

    1. Eddy Ito

      Damn these fumble fingers of mine. DHS not CHS.

  5. Conundrum1885

    I hereby declare

    That though my intentions to explore nuclear and condensed matter physics were benign my Internet history is highly suspicious.

    Later visits by the authorities seemed to suggest that either they did not understand the very detailed notes I send them or they

    simply wanted to prove conclusively that I had something really dangerous up my sleeve. (Spoiler: nope)

    The problem is that if merely clicking on a link is imprisonable then (a) they will need to turn a tenth of the UK into

    a prison, or (b) ban the Internet. This would tend to support the conclusion that developing interstellar travel

    capability is a higher priority than I first thought.

    Seriously, what the actual hell is going on?


  6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Big Brother



    likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" so that it now covers viewing or streaming content online.

    Then I want google maps/earth banned and blocked, mainly because I can peruse the UK's critical infrastructure looking for weak and easily attackable points from the comfort of my sofa.

    No more driving around muddy country lanes, no more 'git orf ma land' farmers, and they've even added a handy over head view which is just right for seeing where an interconnector comes ashore on a quiet beach with easy JCB access.

    But then if the plod find out what I know about explosives and underhand derring do, I'll get banged up for 15 yrs.

    "But m'lud the government GAVE me the knowledge in the first place...."

  7. Norman Nescio

    Obligatory Ayn Rand quotation

    “Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it... There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with.”

    Atlas Shrugged

    Perhaps someone responsible for directing the production of text by the law drafting bits of the civil service has been reading too much Ayn Rand.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory Ayn Rand quotation

      The downside appears to be that after a few years you end up with a generation that does not care about the law at all. Eventually you end up with people stabbing and shooting each other with impunity. Let's hope that never happens in London.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... to include fundraising to support a religious state in the near / middle east.

    Conservative friends of Israel had better watch out then...

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    So the law says that just one view of terrorist propaganda could get you upto 15 years in prison. Can't see anyway that could go wrong.

    The police get a list of IPs that viewed a ISIS propaganda video streamed on the internet and come busting the door down of everyone on the list in an early morning raid. They are arrested and all their devices are taken away for examination, possibly being dismissed from their job over the arrests.

    The police eventually months later can't find any evidence on the computers they have taken and when they check their evidence again, someone had typed the IP address incorrect, or the time stamp was wrong, or a router was hacked etc.

    On another note though I used to have a copy of the Jollyrogers cookbook on a floppy disk back in the 1990s, copies of it used to get passed around the school yard yet afiak no one in my school went on to commit terrorist offences. Today it would get you serious jail time for having that information on your computer especially if you were sharing it around.

  10. wolfdieterbusch

    Reminds me to Third Reich 1939-45

    where it was a crime to listen BBC.

    Ask one who understand German.

  11. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    sodium chlorate and sugar


    you're all nicked.

  12. Spanners Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "Possibly useful to terrorism"

    That describes my whole life...

    As a teenager, I was in the Air Cadets. I learned a little about flying aircraft, but not landing them...

    As a student, I had a couple of happy years in the OTC. I learned how to blow things up and more about firearms than I had in the ATC.

    To the uninformed, my work in in IT surely proves that I could get information for terrorists.

    Even now, I have many years as a work place first aider. This is very handy if one of my fellow terrorists gets shot!

    So although I have never even been arrested for anything, I have been thoroughly educated in many things that could help terrorists, just not conservative ones.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone seen the film "Minority Report"?

    In this 2002 film, "the authorities" have developed a way of assessing the behaviour of individuals so that FUTURE CRIMES TO BE COMMITTED by an individual can be predicted. They called this "Pre-Crime".

    .......and here we are in 2019, in a country which allegedly has free speech rights, where legislation is being passed in an attempt to identify "pre-crime".

    Interesting also to notice that three out of five recent attacks were perpetrated by individuals "already known to the security services". So much for "pre-crime" and our current STASI!!!! And it's going to get worse....more STASI....less privacy......more false positives......

    Take a look at the film!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Has anyone seen the film "Minority Report"?

      The UK does not and has never had free speech rights until the Human Rights Act 1998 came along (which incorporates Article 10 of the ECHR into British law).

      Government ministers have said on numerous occasions that they want to rescind the HRA and replace it with something else.

  14. JohnFen

    Insanely broad?

    So looking at stuff "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" is forbidden? I'm sure the law must be more specific than this, but summarized like that, wouldn't just about anything qualify? Information about where tourist destinations are located, information about how to take public transportation or to drive, even just plain reading and writing itself would all be useful in committing or preparing to commit an act of terrorism, for example.

  15. arctic_haze
    Black Helicopters

    So is watching the Parliament live is now a crime?

    And if not, why?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bye bye lots of classic films

    Like “The Dam Busters” – with it’s glorifying of a terrorist attack on a civilian population.

    1. Conundrum1885

      Re: Bye bye lots of classic films

      And classic science fiction.

      namely the episodes of "Star Trek: The Original Series" where Kirk (a) makes a homemade cannon using chemicals found on the planet where he encountered the Gorn, and (b) uses the Corbomite bluff to get out of being obliterated by the First Federation lightbulb ship.

      Also "Sliders" where Prof. Arturo fixes a failed atomic bomb to blow up an asteroid, and the plans are actually authentic. And about a dozen other episodes.

      Also "Macgyver"... pretty much every episode.

      Anyone know the hotline number for reporting suspicious Internet usage? pretty sure that sitting there for hours downloading stuff is suspicious especially with a glazed look on their face and muttering in some strange arcane language about science not normally available to mere Muggles (tm)

  17. Barry Rueger

    What? Me worry?

    Relax folks. Surely this new law will only apply to people with brown skin. Most of the people here won't need to worry at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What? Me worry?

      What about all those non-brown skinned people who may know or be vaguely related to Irish nationalist groups? They are most definitely targeted by this.

      Soon it will become anyone who access anti-government material, since that is obviously terrorist propaganda.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intention = Good. Implementation = Terrible.

    Freedom of speech is not something Brits have, and further clamping laws around what can one even VIEW let alone say is an affront to democracy. Sure, there is no shortage of hate speech to go around, but at least the US have the RIGHT to take express a viewpoint. Whether one considers it right or wrong to do so is not a criminal matter, but one for society to judge.

    The idea of PC-gone mad is not lost on me. Who gets to decide what content constitutes an offence? What if you are lured into viewing illicit material unintentionally via a malformed link, or perhaps malware or otherwise? Assuming that is the case, how does one prove or disprove whether one intentionally opened something to view it?

    Once again the intention of Brit lawyers is probably well founded, but the implementation is a joke and probably grants powers far and wide beyond their intended role. Like legislation has never been mis-used before...

    Cue more letters to your local MP. Too bad they are too busy debating something else (rather than doing their job and debating / improving legislation...)

  19. Esme

    Unbelievable stupidity

    Putting aside things like scientific knowledge (are things like the study of chemistry and physics to be outlawed now, then?) and everyday purchases at the supermarket making one liable to be transgressing such a law, what about if one falls asleep whilst watching YouTube? At my age, this happens every few days, and given my viewing habits include the likes of Scott Manley and various history channels and I have been known to watch the odd Colin Furze vid amid all the "cat playing piano" fluff (I'm a sucker for anything cute involving animals) - sometimes what I wake up to has little or no relation to anything I'm actually interested in. I once stepped my browser backwards through what it'd been playing for the previous couple of hours, and was startled to see what it'd been reccomending to my completely somnolent self during that time. Bizarre (though, thankfully, nothing horrifying turned up on that occasion).

    I'm sure I'm far from being the only person who realised the terrorist potential for flying aircraft into tall buildings years before the 9/11 tragedy ocurred and deliberately never mentioned this to anyone just in case some ne'erdowell within earshot thought it sounded like a good idea. Cant help but wonder whether the purveyors of certain desserts are going to be put in chokey for selling material capable of being made into an offensive weapon, and if not (given the breadth of stupid laws like this) why not - who gets to decide, on what criteria, and why them? (rhetorical questions, please note).

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Unbelievable stupidity

      "I'm sure I'm far from being the only person who realised the terrorist potential for flying aircraft into tall buildings years before the 9/11 tragedy ocurred and deliberately never mentioned this to anyone just in case some ne'erdowell within earshot thought it sounded like a good idea."

      At least one other person realised it and went a little beyond mentioning it to just anyone. He wrote a book and got it published. As a result, he was recalled into CIA Humint from which he had been riffed because Elint was the future.

      For those of you wishing name and title: Tom Clancy, Debt Of Honor (and it was a JAL plane flying into the Capitol, Washington D.C.).


    Latest Evidence of the Police State

    Not only does everyone have the right and even the responsibility to view terrorist material, the reality is that government of countries like Gt. Britain are the greatest terrorists of all, bombing Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. How are assassination drones not terrorist attacks? And what is wrong about viewing terrorist material in order to reference writing an article or book? Government does not have the authority to censor individual research on anything the internet may hold.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How things change

    Around the time I worked in central government (early 2000s) there was a running joke amongst my left-leaning colleagues that when they'd first joined the civil service and filled out the security clearance forms, they'd answered "yes" to the "Have you ever tried to overthrow the government?" question. This was only a couple of years after "18 years of Tory mis-rule" had come to an end (how are we doing on that latest clock reset btw?) and still in the "things can only get better" honeymoon period (pre-Iraq).

    I guess that kind of behaviour would go down rather badly these days.

    I've since left the UK for personal reasons (woman!) but like to keep an eye on what's going on. I read this article and was like WHAT THE &%^% ARE THEY DOING? Thought crime is a thing now? I can't believe that in less than two short decades the UK has got to the point where watching a video (not involving paedophilia) is an imprisonable offence.

    IIRC the rot started with criminalising certain types of adult consensual pornography.

    It's just weird how the UK has allowed itself to be dragged in to the US "terrorism risk justifies anything" cultural mindset. What happened to "keep calm and carry on"?

    Anyway, nobody likes a whingy ex-pat, but I hope you manage to sort all this mad shit out before the island turns into an authoritarian hellhole.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How things change

      IIRC Previous UK legislation has claimed the right to prosecute UK nationals for offences in another country - and possibly which are not actually illegal there.

  22. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    I would argue...

    That the term word 'terrorist' and its associated forms should be expunged from the legislation.

    We already have perfectly good offences such as murder, conspiracy thereto, causing explosions and the like.

    Adding 'Terrorist' to a law is not only tautologous but gives a false legitimacy to the person committing the offense; whether it is done because you don't like the actions of the ruling party or because the invisible sky fairies told you to, the act is the same, and so should be the procedures, the legislation, and the punishment.

    There is absolutely no need for 'I am a patriot, you are a freedom fighter, he is a terrorist' nonsense.

    1. JohnFen

      Re: I would argue...

      "That the term word 'terrorist' and its associated forms should be expunged from the legislation"

      Yes. Considering that "terrorist" and "terrorism" are words that have been applied to such a wide variety of things that they are essentially meaningless now, I have to agree.

  23. DrM
    Thumb Up

    Click and run

  24. pogul

    Re: RE: Topperfalkon

    I wonder how this would fit in with link prefetching?

  25. pogul

    It wasn't me, it was my browser!

    I wonder how this would fit in with link prefetching?

  26. avidal
    Big Brother

    stalin's dream

    better realize it... we are living in Stalin's dream, like a man of wisdom said

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: stalin's dream

      "better realize it... we are living in Stalin's wet dream, like a man of wisdom said"

      FTFY ;)

  27. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Stupid morons

    And entering from stage right are a wide variety of people publicly posting a variety of links pointing to "illegal-to-view-just-once" terrorist documents with such names as HowToGetNakedBritneyPics.txt so that just about every click-happy moron in the country becomes a criminal. Welcome to HMP United Kingdom.

  28. Chozo

    I feel radilcalised just reading this thread

  29. Loony Moony

    Terrorist material

    As a schoolboy, I learned how to manufacture explosives and still know how to make nitroglycerine, dynamite, tnt, nitrogen trichloride, nitrogen triiodide and black powder. Does this knowledge make me a potential terrorist?

    1. Harry Stottle

      Re: Terrorist material

      you've just reminded me of my own schooldays (late 60s), where I spent my first year of Sixth form, with the blessing and occasional assistance of the (boarding) school, teaching myself to construct and test small rockets (max range 15 miles) using, mainly, a zinc sulphur mix as the propellant. Proudest day of my life remains the first public test, where half the school turned out to watch it fail. Missed the target flag, 1000 yards from the launcher, by 9 feet.

      Chances of any modern schoolkid having that experience?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Terrorist material

        The book "October Sky" tells the story of a boy who made rockets as a teenager. From an academically deprived background he campaigned to get an advanced maths curriculum in the school - as he needed it to calculate the rockets' nozzles. However - he failed to get into the limited class that resulted. A friend was on the course - so the boy borrowed the homework assignments.

        IIRC He eventually had a career in NASA.

  30. Aquilus

    So basically, I'm not allowed the defense of "Yes, I know the link contains terrorist propoganda, and I intend to watch it. But I'm an adult, of sound mind, and have decided to examine the evidence myself so I can make my own mind up"? That behaviour is now criminalised?

    Huh. Well good job we didn't let the terrorists win by altering our way of life and removing our freedom because they hate it, or anything...

  31. Loony Moony

    Terrorist material

    So schools can't teach chemistry any longer? Iodine and NHO4 gives nitrogent triiodide?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Terrorist material

      Do they still teach practical chemistry? A reunion at our old Technical High School circa 2000 was interesting. It was now a specialist Technology Academy.

      The chemistry lab had lost its rows of practical benches with sinks and bunsen burners. Only the teacher had those facilities for demonstrations. The pupils sat at ordinary pod desks.- where half of them would have to turn round to see the teacher.

      No fume cupboards - and not even a Periodic Table chart on the wall.

  32. Harry Stottle

    So how would I write something like this?

    I posted this essay on Militant Islam in 2006. It entailed a few months of research and crawling over their propaganda and published statements. Enough to lock me away for life it would now seem. I don't appear to be protected by any of their "reasonable defences". It wasn't an academic exercise (in any formal sense) . I was (am) just one of many concerned citizens trying to make sense of what goes on in the minds of authoritarians. That seems to have become increasingly necessary ever since, as outrageous policy proposals like this, clearly illustrate.

  33. bish

    "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism"

    That would logically include the locations of key targets, and procurement of the means of transport needed to reach them: tourists visiting the UK are advised to eschew all guidebooks, and just wander round the airport until the return flight. Mind you, being in the country at all seems pretty 'useful', so perhaps just stay away altogether.

  34. Mike_R

    Is e.g. a bus timetable "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" ?


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