An Orwellian violation of privacy is still not the answer to safeguarding the country in the face of extremism


Oliver Daniel is a second year Geography undergraduate, current intern at PolicyBristol, and cyber-security intern in Summer 2016.

The tragic news from Paris shook the world, and has led to an urgent reconsideration of how we can safeguard our citizens’ security. Less than two weeks after the announcement of Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill, the horrific events of Paris still cannot be used as a means to justify it.

“Computers are central to our everyday lives. Big data is reshaping the way we live and work. The internet has brought us tremendous opportunities to prosper and interact with others. But a digital society also presents us with challenges. The same benefits enjoyed by us all are being exploited by serious and organised criminals, online fraudsters, and terrorists. The threat is clear. In the past 12 months alone, six significant terrorist plots have been disrupted here in the UK, as well as a number of further plots overseas. The frequency and cost of cyber-attacks is increasing, with 90% of large organisations suffering an information security breach last year.” Theresa May

The Bill was justified by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP as necessary to ensure that “law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to keep us safe”. But does this Bill really succeed in keeping us safe, and if so, at what cost?

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Counterterrorism and Muslims in Britain: What’s the problem? What’s the solution?

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For over a decade and a half the world has witnessed a dramatic rise in a distinctive kind of violent militancy. Much about it is controversial, including how it should be understood, described and addressed. There is even little, if any consensus, about how it should be labelled. Terms currently employed include: ‘violent jihadism’, ‘jihadi terrorism’, ‘violent Islamism’, ‘violent Islamic extremism’, ‘Islamist terrorism’, to mention but a few.

But two characteristics cannot be denied: it is violent and Islam is invoked as the justification by those who resort to it. However, the precise nature of this relationship is hotly disputed. Some claim that the connection is purely contingent and has no real significance because, while Islamic terminology is employed, the motives and goals of those involved have, in fact, little or nothing to do with Islam. By contrast, others maintain that it is nothing less than the logical extension of Islam given current conditions and recent developments. Of the many positions in between is the view that the conception of Islam invoked is an utterly debased and distorted misunderstanding of the faith, totally at variance with its true, best or better interpretations.

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