The governments Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, this week outlined new plans to counter online websites and servers that host terrorist content. One of the suggestions appeared to be that the same filtering technology used to block paedophile sites could be extended:
Meanwhile, internet service providers said that it was not their job to police the internet for offensive comment. They said they worked with charities such as the Internet Watch Foundation which monitored the web for such content and blocked access to sites hosting illegal content where possible, but that censorship was a job for the authorities.
"If we spent time searching the web's millions of pages for extremist content then we'd do nothing else," Jody Haskayne, a spokesperson for Tiscali, said. "It's not an ISP's job to censor the internet."
A spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) said that most of the sites concerned were hosted on servers outside of the UK, and were outside the scope of takedown notices that could be issued by British ISPs.
Few could argue with the principal of blocking such extreme sites from the Internet, although it would need to be done through an existing method such as that used by the Internet Watch Foundation.
Security experts were also quick to point out the growing sophistication of such groups, some of which could easily circumvent blocks within seconds.
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