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UK To Charge People Repeatedly Viewing Terrorist Content 15 Years In Jail

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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People in the United Kingdom who constantly access and view terrorist content on the internet may soon face a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Amber Rudd, the conservative Home Secretary, announced her intentions to propose and eventually implement the new penalty Monday, according to The Guardian.

“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,” said Rudd. “There is currently a gap in the law around material [that] is viewed or streamed from the internet without being permanently downloaded.”

The law, for now, only addresses offenders who have downloaded or stored information or content useful to a terrorist, rather than repeat viewing, BBC reports.

The stipulation would also apply to terrorists or would-be evildoers who publish information about authorities, like armed forces and law enforcement, in an attempt to further their nefarious aims.

Rudd, and other U.K. and European officials, have adamantly tried to stop terrorism through whatever means possible, even if it leads to the unraveling of significant freedoms or contradicting the nuances of certain technologies. (RELATED: ‘The Uncomfortable Truth’: Google Vows To Do More To Fight Terrorism)

The European Commission, for example, urged the biggest U.S. technology companies — like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, YouTube and Google — to crack down on online hate speech in December, or be essentially forced to do so through the enactment of legislation.

Intelligence agencies in the country should have access to messages on platforms like WhatsApp even if they are encrypted because violent extremists use the technology to conceal their communications, particularly the logistics and planning of terrorist operations, Rudd said in March. (RELATED: Twitter Claims To Have Shut Down 235,000 Accounts Connected To Terrorism In 6 Months)

After being specifically asked about WhatsApp and if it’s time to “end end-to-end encryption,” Rudd told Sky News she supports such functionality, and that the app “has a place,” since cybersecurity is so necessary to important realms of society like the economy.

There must be some sort of “system” where law enforcement can acquire encrypted communications with a warrant, Rudd also said in March.

“That’s incompatible with end-to-end encryption,” a Sky News anchor retorted.

“No it’s not. It’s not incompatible. You can have a system whereby they can build it so we can have access to it when it is absolutely necessary,” Rudd asserted, while also claiming again that she supports encryption.

As the news anchor pointed out, Rudd wants to have a “backdoor” that she somewhat erroneously purports would only allow access to law enforcement and nobody else, including hackers.

Rudd’s comments came after Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old Briton, drove a car into several people on Westminster Bridge, and then stabbed a police officer to death near parliament. More than 40 people were injured, and at least four people were killed, due to the act of terrorism. (RELATED: Americans Split On If Police Should Be Able To Force You To Unlock Your Phones)

Rudd’s proposal reverberated a debate that has transpired many times before, including in the U.S. and Turkey.

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