642 New terror laws ‘would criminalise thought’, watchdog warns

Speech Materals

Ministers should not “criminalise thought” with plans to prosecute people who view extremist content online, the UK’s terror watchdog has said.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd recently announced plans to increase jail terms for those found guilty to 15 years.

But Max Hill QC said “thought without action” was not terrorism and it would be “quite wrong” to create new laws which treat it as such.

Downing Street said a “clear message” needed to be sent to terrorists.

Following the spate of terror attacks, Theresa May declared “enough is enough” and vowed to crack down on extremism.

Earlier this month, Ms Rudd stated her intention of increasing prison sentences for people who repeatedly stream terror-related content online.

Currently, the law only applies to material downloaded and stored, and comes with a maximum penalty of 10 years.

I – Word Understanding
Prosecute – to accuse someone of crime and give punishment
Watchdog – a person or organization whose job is to make sure that companies or the government do not act illegally or irresponsibly
Downing Street – a name of a street in London, but in this context used to refer to the Government of UK

II – Have Your Say
1. What would you consider acts of terrorism? Do you think it is justified?
2. Why do you think terrorism is acted more in some countries than others?
3. Extremism is generally used to describe ideologies that support terrorism, racism, xenophobia, left- or right-wing political radicalism and religious intolerance. How does the internet help in the spread of extremism? What makes people interested and stream terror-related materials online?
4. Currently, it is a crime in the UK when a person downloads and stores extremist contents online. On a similar note, Japan also had just passed the controversial anti-terror law. Are you familiar with this? What is your take on criminalizing “thoughts without action”?

642 New terror laws ‘would criminalise thought’, watchdog warns

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