Because the internet?

By Lauren Kelly, Editor-in-Chief

Following the horrific attack on London Bridge June 3, Theresa May has declared that this is proof that the internet should be further regulated. To be fair, one of the three attackers, Khuram Butt, was radicalized by a YouTube channel operated by an American Islamist named Ahmad Musa Jibril, who preached distrust towards the west. YouTube is, unfortunately, an easy way for extremists to disseminate information to others. The internet in general has proven to be an effective way (unsurprisingly) of spreading information.

It’s frightening and sad that May’s initial reaction to this attack was to immediately push her political agenda. To find so much opportunity in such tragedy and then capitalize on it is shrewd, especially days before the general election. This has already happened in the recent past; the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act, casually referred to as the Snooper’s Charter, has the purpose of helping fight crime and terrorism. It also deprives UK citizens of their privacy. All of their emails, texts, calls, and browser history is available for the authorities to access without a warrant, and the information must be retained by their ISPs and other providers for a year. They were very successful at pushing it, as the prevailing rhetoric on the right was that those who did not support the Act did support terrorism.

Taking advantage of people’s fear is an easy method for politicians to achieve more control over their civilians. What is more important, though, is freedom. It is scary to live in a world where these attacks happen so frequently, and it must be incredibly more so for those in England. However, the solution isn’t to tighten security and restrictions on civilians to the point of them having no privacy.

In many cases of terrorist activity, including this one, the authorities have already been warned and are aware of the attackers, often through warnings from their friends and community members. Butt was currently under investigation when the attack took place, and had previously taken part in a documentary about jihadists. He did not try to hide himself, and in many cases, perpetrators of terror attacks are vocal about their beliefs. We do not need to take away more privacy to stop these attacks.

Still, what should the authorities do when a person is reported for extremism? Can they be arrested and held for having beliefs? For preaching aggression and hate? In the US, hate speech is legal, but Canada and the UK do not make the same exception. So how do we handle this? There needs to be a way for authorities in any country to handle this information, because as it is, what they are doing now clearly isn’t working consistently enough. Until then, the important thing is to get to the root of the problem.

Those in IS and other terrorist organizations want to cause a rift between Muslims and non-Muslims, and we are letting them. Fear is a powerful motivator. We cannot fall prey to their plans. We need to unite. We need to celebrate our freedoms, and stand in the face of those who seek to scare and hurt us. This past weekend, Ariana Grande showed remarkable resilience and strength after the bomb at her Manchester concert. After taking a few days to collect and take care of herself, she organized a massive benefit concert in Manchester alongside other stars. Even after the London Bridge attack took place, all of the musicians and attendees strongly stood together in solidarity.

We can’t lose our freedoms because of terrorists. We should be free to enjoy life, celebrate, and yes, even use the internet without someone tracking everything we do. We should be free to not have every aspect of our lives dictated by fear and by politics. May’s manoeuvring has been rightfully called out by many, and hopefully it will prove to lower her ratings, not raise them. The UK deserves better than this. We all do.

Following the horrific attack on London Bridge June 3, Theresa May has declared that this is proof that the internet should be further regulated. To be fair, one of the three attackers, Khuram Butt, was radicalized by a YouTube channel operated by an American Islamist named Ahmad Musa Jibril, who preached distrust towards the west. YouTube is, unfortunately, an easy way for extremists to disseminate information to others. The internet in general has proven to be an effective way (unsurprisingly) of spreading information.

It’s frightening and sad that May’s initial reaction to this attack was to immediately push her political agenda. To find so much opportunity in such tragedy and then capitalize on it is shrewd, especially days before the general election. This has already happened in the recent past; the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act, casually referred to as the Snooper’s Charter, has the purpose of helping fight crime and terrorism. It also deprives UK citizens of their privacy. All of their emails, texts, calls, and browser history is available for the authorities to access without a warrant, and the information must be retained by their ISPs and other providers for a year. They were very successful at pushing it, as the prevailing rhetoric on the right was that those who did not support the Act did support terrorism.

Taking advantage of people’s fear is an easy method for politicians to achieve more control over their civilians. What is more important, though, is freedom. It is scary to live in a world where these attacks happen so frequently, and it must be incredibly more so for those in England. However, the solution isn’t to tighten security and restrictions on civilians to the point of them having no privacy.

In many cases of terrorist activity, including this one, the authorities have already been warned and are aware of the attackers, often through warnings from their friends and community members. Butt was currently under investigation when the attack took place, and had previously taken part in a documentary about jihadists. He did not try to hide himself, and in many cases, perpetrators of terror attacks are vocal about their beliefs. We do not need to take away more privacy to stop these attacks.

Still, what should the authorities do when a person is reported for extremism? Can they be arrested and held for having beliefs? For preaching aggression and hate? In the US, hate speech is legal, but Canada and the UK do not make the same exception. So how do we handle this? There needs to be a way for authorities in any country to handle this information, because as it is, what they are doing now clearly isn’t working consistently enough. Until then, the important thing is to get to the root of the problem.

Those in IS and other terrorist organizations want to cause a rift between Muslims and non-Muslims, and we are letting them. Fear is a powerful motivator. We cannot fall prey to their plans. We need to unite. We need to celebrate our freedoms, and stand in the face of those who seek to scare and hurt us. This past weekend, Ariana Grande showed remarkable resilience and strength after the bomb at her Manchester concert. After taking a few days to collect and take care of herself, she organized a massive benefit concert in Manchester alongside other stars. Even after the London Bridge attack took place, all of the musicians and attendees strongly stood together in solidarity.

We can’t lose our freedoms because of terrorists. We should be free to enjoy life, celebrate, and yes, even use the internet without someone tracking everything we do. We should be free to not have every aspect of our lives dictated by fear and by politics. May’s manoeuvring has been rightfully called out by many, and hopefully it will prove to lower her ratings, not raise them. The UK deserves better than this. We all do.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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