Index on Censorship is concerned about the UK’s Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill and believes that the bill should go back to the drawing board.
The bill threatens investigative journalism and academic research by making it a crime to view material online that could be helpful to a terrorist. This would deter investigative journalists from doing their work and would make academic research into terrorism difficult or impossible.
New border powers in the bill could put journalists’ confidential sources at risk. The bill’s border security measures would mean that journalists could be forced to answer questions or hand over material that would reveal the identity of a confidential source. These new powers could be exercised without any grounds for suspicion.
The bill also endangers freedom of expression in other ways. It would make it an offence to express an opinion in support of a proscribed (terrorist) organisation in a way that is ‘reckless’ as to whether this could encourage another person to support the organisation. This would apply even if the reckless person was making the statement to one other person in a private home.
The bill would criminalise the publication of a picture or video clip of an item of clothing or for example a flag in a way that aroused suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a terrorist organisation. This would cover, for example, someone taking a picture of themselves at home and posting it online.
Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy said: “The fundamentally flawed Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill should be sent back to the drawing board. It is not fit for purpose and it would limit freedom of expression, journalism and academic research in a way that should be completely unacceptable in a democratic country.”