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U.K. Plans 15-Year Jail Terms for Viewing Terror Online

  • Home Secretary Amber Rudd speaks to Conservative conference
  • Britain aiming to tackle online Islamic State propaganda

Extremists who repeatedly watch terrorist content online could be jailed for as long as 15 years, U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Tuesday, announcing an update of counter-terrorism laws.

The move will expand the existing offense of possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist so it does not only apply to downloaded or stored information. U.K. analysis found that in the past year Islamic State supporters have promoted almost 67,000 propaganda tweets in English.

Read more about Islamic State Terroris and its Recruitment Methods

There have been five terrorist attacks in Britain over the past 12 months. The maximum penalty will also apply to terrorists’ use of online platforms to publicize information about members of the armed forces, police and intelligence services to help would-be attackers.

Academics, journalists and other professionals will have a "reasonable excuse" defense for legitimate work.

‘’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’’ Rudd told the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester, England. "There is currently a gap in the law around material which is viewed or streamed from the internet without being permanently downloaded.’’

She demanded that major technology companies act more quickly to stop terrorists using their platforms. "I call on you with urgency to bring forward technology solutions to rid your platforms of this vile terrorist material that plays such a key role in radicalization,” Rudd said.

The home secretary also said the government will hold a consultation on proposed legislation to stop the sale of knives to children and prevent people carrying acid in public places, in a bid to clamp down on acid attacks.

Flick knives and so-called zombie knives will also be banned. She also said the government will invest 600,000 pounds ($800,000) in new technology to remove indecent pictures of children from the internet.

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