Dolores Umbridge Visits the US
Published: 2018-02-16

The most determined assault on Internet freedom of speech in the English-speaking world is underway in the UK, led by Prime Minister Theresa May and her Home Secretary Amber Rudd.  

"Governments and technology companies can make the internet a safer place by collaborating to prevent the circulation of terrorist propaganda," Amber Rudd has said. The Home Secretary made a speech at the opening of the Digital Forum on Terrorism Prevention, hosted by the US Department of Homeland Security, warning the websites and social media sites which fail to detect and remove terrorist content will become known as “the terrorists’ platform of choice.” All five major UK terrorist attacks in 2017 had an “online component,” Ms. Rudd said, adding there was a need to prevent the material being uploaded online and radicalizing people.

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Ms. Rudd is putting all the pressure she can on US-based firms to stifle internet speech.  "The Home Secretary and US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen visited senior executives from leading venture-capital firms, asking them to ensure the start-ups they invested in had taken appropriate anti-terrorist measures."


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British Prime Minister Theresa May has called on Internet companies to remove extremist propaganda from their sites in less than two hours.

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Nine arrests a day. The London Times reported that an average of nine British people a day were arrested in 2017 on charges of posting allegedly offensive messages online.  The number of arrests last year probably topped 4,000 people, up from 680 cases in 2007.  Ms. Rudd plans more; in October she announced the creation of a special national police hub focused on and encouraging the prosecution of “online hate.”  

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Also in October, Rudd announced a move by the Tory government to crack down on what British citizens are permitted to view on the internet. Piloted as part of a campaign against "radicalization", Rudd stated that the government would be tightening the law so that UK citizens repeatedly reading certain forbidden internet content could face up to 15 years in jail for looking at the websites. Rudd stated "I want to make sure those who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions, face the full force of the law.” 

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Along with creating a force to spy on citizens’ internet use, Rudd is pressuring US firms to deny service to groups Rudd does not like. In December she publicly denounced a San Francisco-based company for not heeding her repeated calls to cut service to a nationalistic British political group.  

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Ms. Rudd is more than a passing political figure in England; she is rumored to be in line to take charge of the Conservative party if Theresa May steps aside.  Little of this rather amazing news is being reported in the mainstream US media.  With the real-life equivalent of Dolores Umbridge in charge of British Internet freedoms, we should expect more prosecutions.


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Author(s): David Merlin
Title: Dolores Umbridge Visits the US
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Published: 2018-02-16
First posted on CODOH: Feb. 16, 2018, 4:14 p.m.
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