The Home secretary has today announced her intentions to imprison for up to 15 years people who look at terrorist materials online – and also found time to get tetchy with someone who asked her a question.
Amber Rudd’s plans to tighten current laws and deal offenders far longer sentences will also include those who leak information about members of the police and the armed forces with the intention of creating terror acts.
Speaking earlier at a Conservative Conference fringe meeting in Manchester, Rudd got petulant with someone who asked her if she understood how end-to-end encryption works. She snapped: ‘It’s so easy to be patronised in this business. We will do our best to understand it. We will take advice from other people. But I do feel that there is a sea of criticism for any of us who try and legislate in new areas, who will automatically be sneered at and laughed at for not getting it right. I don’t need to understand how encryption works to understand how it’s helping the criminals.’
The home secretary is apparently upset with people questioning her IT and digital knowledge, after a string of gaffes. However, I wouldn’t say that asking someone if they know how end-to-end encryption works is ‘patronising’. It’s just a question, isn’t it? What next: ‘You do know how to land this plane, don’t you?’ ‘Don’t patronise me!’
Anyhow, data from the Home Office shows that busy bee ISIS types have knocked out 67,000 English-language tweets since September 2016, while 44,000 links to the crazed group’s ‘literature’ have been shared.
Rudd’s proposals will see section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 beefed up. Currently, you’re in hot water if you download or print terror-related screeds, but after the change you’ll be nicked just for looking at it – so bored and curious types might want to remember that the next time they’re stuck at home alone on a Saturday night.
The minister 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.’
Earlier in the year, Rudd said she wanted the security services to have access to encrypted messages. Experts quickly pointed out that breaking encryption for the likes of MI5 would also mean that criminals, terrorists and dodgy regimes would likewise enjoy having access to private messages. Needs a rethink, that one.