The London Bridge terror attack was a stark reminder of the ease with which Daesh-inspired Islamists can kill and maim people when there is very little that the police or security services can do to stop them.Yet the focus on how to stop these attacks has been on increased policing on the streets, clampdowns on civil liberties and increased monitoring of the internet.
Theresa May has even said that she will not let human rights get in the way of her drive to stamp out terrorism.May says she wants “to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online”. As Amber Rudd has previously argued the Tories want a backdoor to access encrypted messages and to be able to censor media, or more specifically have Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. censor it for us.The government is very comfortable with computer algorithms written by large companies deciding what we can and cannot see. Such an approach is both doomed to failure and damages freedom of expression.
“Extremism” in many guises operates on parts of the web that are most immune to the solutions the government plans. The government want to sound tough but they have no real means of implementing their own solution.Inevitably any “backdoor” would also be used by criminals, terrorists and oppressive regimes across the globe. Politicians appear to very little knowledge about how encryption works.
To undercut the influence of Daesh and other Islamist killers there are no short cuts. We need to build a strong labour movement that fights to save and improve services and education, fights for decent jobs for young people and counters and challenges the cult of death of Daesh with the politics of reason and hope.