Online jihadist propaganda gets more views in the UK than in any other European country, according to a new report.
Britain is ranked fifth in the world scale of audiences accessing online extremist material, trailing behind Turkey, the US, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the Policy Exchange study found.
The report suggests a majority (74 percent) of the 2,001 Britons it surveyed would support new laws to criminalize the “persistent consumption” of extremist material online.
In fact, while it is currently an offence to possess information that could assist a would-be terrorist under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, it is not illegal to possess material which glorifies terrorism.
Although the government has called on social media giants like Facebook and WhatsApp to crack down on jihadist material, former US military chief General David Petraeus, who wrote a foreword to the report, said current regulations aimed at tackling the propagation of online extremist material are “inadequate.”
He also suggested the latest terrorist attack at Parsons Green Tube station, London, “underscores the ever-present nature of this threat.”
“There is no doubting the urgency of this matter,” he said. “The status quo clearly is unacceptable.”
The 130-page report found Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) produces more than 100 pieces of propaganda, including articles and videos, per week. It said any progress in dismantling the terrorists’ presence online has been “overstated.”
The collapse of IS positions in Syria and Iraq has not deterred the manufacture of more terrorist content.
“For at least a year, the production of content has continued despite the death of key figures, loss of territory and ongoing fighting,” it said.
The study recommends implementing new laws criminalizing the “aggravated possession and/or persistent consumption” of extremist ideology, without penalizing those who happen to “stumble across” jihadist content.