Nation special report
LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May has warned those who are involved in terror activities and said that Britain needed to take a tougher line against those people who post and view extremist content on the internet following a number of attacks this year.
“There are a number of things we need to do to deal with this,” she said in an interview and later in her speech at the annual conference of ruling Conservative Party in Manchester on Wednesday.
She elaborated: “(One) is taking more action and tougher action on those people who do use the internet, who are putting terrorist material, extremist material on the internet.“In the future we’ll be making it an offence to stream or browse that material and we’re going to be increasing the sentence so that it could last to a sentence of up to 15 years.”
Theresa May has faced a backlash over plans to build just 25,000 extra social homes in the UK over two years. The Prime Minister pledged to “dedicate” her premiership to fixing Britain’s housing crisis as she announced an extra £2 billion for affordable housing.
An extra 12,500 homes for social rent will be built each year in 2020 and 2021 under the plans which were unveiled at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday.
Local authorities and housing associations will be encouraged to bid for money from the new funding pot to support a “new generation of council houses”.
She said: “Whether you’re trying to buy your own, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on its way.”
Mrs May’s big fightback speech, in which she announced the Conservatives’ plans for housing, was marred by a coughing fit and an extraordinary lapse in security when comedian Simon Brodkin marched up to the lectern and handed her a mock P45. In London, there are 230,000 on the waiting lists.
Key points of speech
Theresa May apologised for leading the Conservatives to an election disaster.
She admitted the campaign was ‘to scripted’ and ‘too presidential’.
She said: ‘I hold my hands up for that, I take responsibility. I led the campaign, and I am sorry.’
Personal back story
May conceded that she is not very emotional and has been called an ‘ice maiden’- but revealed her grandmother was a domestic servant.
She said that the granddaughter of a lady’s maid can rise to become Prime Minister show the power of the ‘British Dream’.
Theresa May announced that she will change the law so Britons have to opt out, rather than opt in, the organ donation register.
She also announced a review of the Mental Health Act to discover it is discriminatory and open to misuse.
Pledged to ‘reignite home ownership’ by pumping an extra £2billion into social housing.
She is the first Conservative leader since Harold Macmillan to pledge a new generation of council houses.
Energy price cap
Announced that the government will legislate to cap energy prices to help the hardest pressed in Britain.
University tuition fees
The Tories will scrap the planed rise in tuition fees and raise the threshold at which they are paid to £25,000.
Home secretary Amber Rudd announced plans on Tuesday to change the law to be able to sentence people who repeatedly view terrorist content online for up to 15 years in jail. Currently people can only be convicted of an offense if they download or store this material rather than view or stream it online.
It is a “critical difference” to the law, she said during a speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
Someone who publishes information on the UK police or armed forces for the purposes of preparing a terror attack could also face up to 15 years in jail, she said.
Her speech comes after a series of attacks by radical extremists across Europe this year, and on the same day as French MPs voted on an anti-terrorism law that could increase police powers. Rudd also told the conference that social media and technology companies must do more to tackle online extremism.
That was a move welcomed by the Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit group based in London and New York. “Amber Rudd is correct, extremist content is too easily accessible and not enough is being done presently to pressure Internet and social media companies to more quickly and permanently remove extremist and terrorist content,” said executive director David Ibsen.
Others warn that some of Rudd’s tougher policies may have potentially negative and unintended consequences. “Whilst we understand the Home Secretary’s intentions in changing the law in terms of viewing extremist material and the punishment served, we should not be complacent to think that this will eradicate extremism from our society,” said Saida Mughal, CEO of the Jan Trust, an organization that works with women — mainly mothers — to counter online extremism. Mughal is also a survivor of the London 7/7 bombings in July 2015.
15 years in prison
Extremists who repeatedly view terrorist content online face up to 15 years in jail under plans Amber Rudd will tell conference that counter-terrorism laws will be updated to keep pace with online activities.
The move will strengthen the existing offence of possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist so it does not only apply to downloaded or stored information.
Academics, journalists and other professionals would have a “reasonable excuse” defence for legitimate work. The maximum penalty will also apply to terrorists who publish information about members of the armed forces, police and intelligence services to fuel attacks.
Home Office analysis found that over the last 12 months, Islamic State supporters have published almost 67,000 tweets in English promoting its propaganda.
Ms Rudd said: “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.