Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Youtube United Kingdom United States Your Rights Online

UK Pressures the US To Takedown Extremist Videos 629

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-fit-to-see dept.
chrb writes "BBC News and the Telegraph are reporting that the British government has pressured the US government to take down privately hosted extremist web sites and videos, particularly on YouTube. The request follows the conviction of a 21-year-old woman who attempted to murder MP Stephen Timms after watching YouTube videos of radical American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. YouTube hosts more than 5,000 videos featuring al-Awlaki, but has begun to remove them following the British government's complaints. The issue obviously raises First Amendment issues in the US, but Security minister Baroness Neville-Jones has said 'Those websites would categorically not be allowed in the UK. They incite cold-blooded murder and as such are surely contrary to the public good. If they were hosted in the UK then we would take them down but this is a global problem. Many of these websites are hosted in America and we look forward to working even more closely with you to take down this hateful material.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

UK Pressures the US To Takedown Extremist Videos

Comments Filter:
  • by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:45PM (#34117408) Homepage Journal

    So they're already stopping the 24x7 broadcast of extremist videos.

  • Lol, no worries. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cfalcon (779563) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:45PM (#34117410)

    This will be a nonstarter. The US government isn't going to start attacking "hate websites" or otherwise poop on the first amendment. Companies like Youtube will certainly comply with the British government. Net result: such content won't be on the most popular avenues of the net, but it'll still be out there for those who are "interested" in such things. So you and I won't be able to browse to it on google video, but it'll be hosted on, I dunno, hatetube or something.

    • Re:Lol, no worries. (Score:5, Informative)

      by RazzleFrog (537054) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:52PM (#34117478)

      It depends. Not all speech is protected:

      # Obscenity
      # Fighting words
      # Defamation (includes libel, slander)
      # Child pornography
      # Perjury
      # Blackmail
      # Incitement to imminent lawless action
      # True threats
      # Solicitations to commit crimes# Obscenity
      # Fighting words
      # Defamation (includes libel, slander)
      # Child pornography
      # Perjury
      # Blackmail
      # Incitement to imminent lawless action
      # True threats
      # Solicitations to commit crimes

      Source: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/Speech/faqs.aspx?id=15822 [firstamendmentcenter.org]

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:55PM (#34117516)

        "You said rape twice"
        "I like rape"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "Not all speech is protected:"

        Oh, of course. I didn't know they could just interpret the constitution as they like. I don't recall seeing that wording in there...

        # Obscenity
        # Fighting words

        Wow, yeah. Obscenity. As defined by who? What if someone finds the word "the" obscene? Does that not count because others would deem it 'silly'? The only opinions that count are those of the majority or a few judges? Such a great idea!

        • Re:Lol, no worries. (Score:5, Informative)

          by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:13PM (#34117716)
          Obviously, you are unfamiliar with the case of Miller v California, which laid down the rules for obscenity. And, for the record, the Supreme Court CAN interpret the constitution as they like.

          To qualify as obscenity, it has to meet all three of the following requirements: it has to, by the standards of the community, appeal to the prurient interest; it must depict patently offensive sexual behavior; it must lack any and all artistic and scientific value.
          • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:50PM (#34118154)

            "patently offensive"

            Who decides what is offensive and what is not? I don't find much of anything offensive, so why are other people making this decision for me?

            "artistic"

            Again, completely subjective.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by epyT-R (613989)

        Of course.. there's nothing stopping the US from punching more holes in the 1st amendment for the sake of global 'community cohesion.' I believe that's the british newspeak term for justifying censorship of expression.

      • by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:30PM (#34117938) Homepage Journal

        Actually, all speech is protected. There are no exceptions in the constitution. It's quite specific:

        Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech

        See? "NO law." There you go. Not "some laws when we don't like speech", but NO LAW.

        What you have done here is confuse the illicit, usurped power to attack speech, which the US government has taken, with the authority to exercise power to attack speech, which has never, ever been extended to the US government by the people.

        Also, BTW, the supreme court has no legitimate authority here other than to reject any law that abridges the freedom of speech. Article III authorizes absolutely no power to carve out exceptions; that's limited to article V, and is authorized ONLY to the people.

    • by reemul (1554)

      Some of the sites are for designated terrorist entities - it is already illegal to do business with them. (In fact there is a large fine attached.) No 1st Amendment protection in that narrow case, it just isn't enforced worth a damn (hello YouTube and WordPress, I'm looking at you), so maybe British pressure will raise the temperature a little.

      Otherwise, no, there probably won't be anything done as lunatics and creeps of all stripes are generally allowed to say whatever the heck they want here in the US. It

    • by sayfawa (1099071) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:16PM (#34117760)
      I checked, and hatetube.com is apparently already taken. It's not really what I was expecting. So now, half an hour later, I thought I'd drop by here again just to let everyone know.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      Companies like Youtube will certainly comply with the British government. Net result: such content won't be on the most popular avenues of the net, but it'll still be out there for those who are "interested" in such things.

      The ultimate net result will be that those videos are hosted in places that won't allow them to be rebutted. At least on youtube there is a comments section - both for text and for video responses as well as the stuff on the right side of the page that youtube automatically associates based on keywords.

      It's precisely that sort of isolation from moderating influences that radicalizes people. If anything, the censorship of the videos on the big name sites will reinforce the belief that the videos contain th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:49PM (#34117448)

    We are not the UK anymore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rik Sweeney (471717)

      Obligitory Mr. Mackey

      "We are not the UK, mkay?"

  • that it's alright for elected officials to protect their positions from being challenged through democratic processes like anything on the internet/media to "protect the social good"?

    maybe I'm just a little crazy, but that screams of a corrupt government to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      that it's alright for elected officials to protect their positions from being challenged through democratic processes like anything on the internet/media to "protect the social good"?

      maybe I'm just a little crazy, but that screams of a corrupt government to me.

      To be fair, the elected official in question had his 'position as a living person' challenged by a nutter who came to his constituency office and stabbed him with a knife. He was not "challenged through democratic processes". Over in the UK we have these things called elections to do that. I don't really think that this move is necessarily a good idea, but to say it is corrupt for people to be upset over the case is ridiculous. Also, he is (now) an opposition MP, and is not part of the government.

  • Know Your Enemy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:51PM (#34117470) Homepage

    If the enemy is willing to tell you their plans, pay attention.

    • Re:Know Your Enemy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Albinoman (584294) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:04PM (#34117614)
      My thoughts exactly. I've watched a few interview from a British Muslim guy named Anjem Choudary (mostly arguing with Richard Dawkins over the inherent danger in religion), and I find it enlightening to know just how crazy some people are out there. We're talking the kind of guy that thinks everyone should be converted to Sharia law, forcefully if necessary. Someone who thinks people should be put to death for leaving Islam. It's strange to watch someone debate a topic, when that debate would not even be allowed if he had his way. Also, by banning these people is makes them harder to find for those needing to detain these freaks.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @05:58PM (#34117548)

    How it works in the US is,

    You find someone with deep pockets associated with the video and sue the hell out of them. Repeat until everyone takes down the video/article/link.

    The government can't suppress speech but businesses do it all the time.

    I'm sure it's legal free speech. And who ever uploaded it could probably be fined for something. And You Tube could definitely be sued for hosting it after it was a known danger (probably before). Might not win, but they would likely fold under mild pressure for something repugnant like this.

  • not incitement (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Can someone show me a specific example of where he incites violence in his videos?

  • YouTube will instantly pull the video and once it is reuploaded do it again.
  • by quag7 (462196) <deepspace@dataswamp.net> on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:02PM (#34117590) Homepage

    The First Amendment issues are obvious here, but I have to say, we relegare ourselves to a pack of dumb animals if we make the point that watching something or reading something or playing violent video games means we're going to freak out and imitate or otherwise follow the directions of anything contained within.

    We are not three year olds. We can watch hateful, obscene, or otherwise nasty crap and we can make the decision not to be a bunch of zombies about it. Unless and until we insist that people think for themselves and be responsible for their actions, (and law should mandate it - meaning, you can't use "I watched a bunch of nasty stuff and it influenced me therefore the crime I committed isn't my fault" argument) we condemn ourselves to a kind of tyranny where government is the adult who steps in and treats us like impressionable toddlers. Freedom is contingent upon critical thinking and personal responsibility, and I am not willing to accept shackles because there are a smattering of idiots among us who are incapable of it.

    The logic that we have to stop thoughtcrime because it might spread or influence people is chilling.

    The United States needs to ignore the UK's demand, and the UK, if it insists, can certainly petition google to take action on this.

    But unless we rely on the idea that free people in a free society can think critically, why not just invite the government into our lives completely? Why even have a free society, if we're really just animals, a few videos away from going on some kind of horrible killing spree? Why go through the pretense of insisting that human beings are capable, through independent thought and taking responsibility for their actions, of liberty?

    The "categorically not allowed in the UK" bit could not, as an American, concern me less -- and should the United States attempt the same kind of argument with the UK in the future, the UK can and should ignore the United States's demands to infringe the right of people to say and read/watch what they like.

    The alternative, where the government makes this decision that there's just stuff we can't watch, is scary.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:25PM (#34117858)

      we relegare ourselves to a pack of dumb animals if we make the point that watching something or reading something or playing violent video games means we're going to freak out and imitate or otherwise follow the directions of anything contained within.

      trouble is, some people do freak out and imitate or otherwise follow this nonsense. In fact, many people do - from TV evangelists and their millions of followers, through ponzi and 'nigerian' scammers, and massmedia-incited mobs, to fanatical nutjobs. That's what I find scary about all this. Its not the nutjbs trying to cash in in some way, it the sheeple who so easily follow the most obviously ludicrous idiocy.

      Theonly answer is education, so we improve the quality of all the people's intellectual capacity. Hopefully the number of fools who fall for all of the above will drop then. (though too many of these people will *still* buy iPads :) )

    • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:46PM (#34118732) Journal

      We are not three year olds. We can watch hateful, obscene, or otherwise nasty crap and we can make the decision not to be a bunch of zombies about it. Unless and until we insist that people think for themselves and be responsible for their actions, (and law should mandate it - meaning, you can't use "I watched a bunch of nasty stuff and it influenced me therefore the crime I committed isn't my fault" argument) we condemn ourselves to a kind of tyranny where government is the adult who steps in and treats us like impressionable toddlers. Freedom is contingent upon critical thinking and personal responsibility, and I am not willing to accept shackles because there are a smattering of idiots among us who are incapable of it.

      The logic that we have to stop thoughtcrime because it might spread or influence people is chilling.

      This is the same argument that was used to allow hate radio to carry on inciting the genocide in Rwanda. The US government and the international community could have insisted on the closure of the radio stations that were cranking out non stop round-the-clock anti-Tutsi propaganda and telling the killers where to go in search of more Tutsis to slaughter, but they didn't because it would have violated their "free speech" principles.

      Wake up and smell the coffee, people. You might be an intelligent person, you might be able to listen to propaganda and recognise it for what it is, but that doesn't apply to everyone. You only have to look at the US itself where Fox News now gets major ratings and a significant proportion of the population has actually swallowed the unfounded lie that President Obama is a Muslim.

      We live in a world where there are brainwashed, violent extremists who are driven by a hatred of all things western and will stop at nothing to kill civilians in pursuit of Jihad. They are easily influenced by this crap. Wishful thinking about everyone's intelligence is going to get us nowhere, especially in an age when Islamic fundamentalist barbarians could be dangerously close to getting their hands on a nuclear weapon.

      It's time to put the "all free speech is wonderful" ideology into a bit of perspective. And as much as I hate to Godwin the thread, there was a certain Austrian dude in the 1930s who was able to make ample use of his right to free speech to great effect. Which was greater, his right to free speech or the right to life of a million Jews? Don't tell me his right to free speech was greater - it wasn't. Pure and simple.

      You see here's the difference between US and European attitudes to free speech. In Europe, war actually took place on home turf. Yes WWII claimed a lot of American lives, but the actual combat never reached the continental US, whereas it most certainly reached European soil. WWII casts long shadows, and it's for that reason that Europeans are a bit more tetchy about letting anyone say anything that might incite a mob, because that can lead to the darkest places imaginable. In a world of nuclear weapons and Islamic fundamentalist barbarians who hate our civilisation, I find unfettered freedom of speech a whole lot more scary than a few reasonable curbs on hate speech.

  • by fantomas (94850) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:09PM (#34117662)

    David Cameron (UK prime minister) has let all the rhetoric go to his head. He actually believes it when the US politicians pat him on the head and tell him that the UK and USA do indeed have a special relationship. Wake up, any balance of power between the USA and UK finished sometime before World War 2, over 70 years ago. The "special relationship" deal is that the USA expects the UK to give their requests special treatment (collude in "special renditions", help out on a war, that kind of thing), but don't expect anything in return beyond maybe the occasional tour of the White House and a signed photo from the president.

    Fool. The USA isn't going to listen to any UK request any more than the USA expects the UK to refuse any request from them. They'll shout "1776" and "tea party" and ignore whatever is said next.

    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:40PM (#34118036)

      Fool. The USA isn't going to listen to any UK request any more than the USA expects the UK to refuse any request from them. They'll shout "1776" and "tea party" and ignore whatever is said next.

      You're an idiot. The US cannot agree to a UK request that categorically violates the US Constitution. Britain should know better than to ask for such an idiotic thing in the first place.

      It's like requesting that the US make Catholicism the official national religion. It's never going to happen, not for any religion (such a thing would violate the Constitution), and it is bizarre to even ask.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kegon (766647)

        Britain should know better than to ask for such an idiotic thing in the first place.

        Well, no actually. You're assuming that British people study the US constitution - they don't. Secondly, it is up to the American people to determine how to interpret the US constitution. There is nothing idiotic about that.

        If a friend and ally makes a request, you can certainly consider it (before you say no). Constitution or not, quite possibly the specific videos in question might infringe some law or regulation, so there

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The US -has- ignored the constitution in recent memory, and got away with it. So clearly they can again. The US gov only listens to money, not the UK. Catholic isn't likely to become a state religion, it's not Protestant. However the Republicans would certainly vote for a state religion if they had the chance. If they can openly support creationist nonsense (intelligent design) and prayers in school then i'd not put official state religion past them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jo_ham (604554)

      It's not as one sided as some in the US like to make out - we have had periods of mutual benefit. The fact that we have land here for US air force bases, for example. Or the trade of custom reactor designs for our subs in exchange for acoustic silencing tech that the US didn't have.

      The UK may be a physically small country, but it holds a disproportionate amount of power in the EU for its population which makes it politically very potent.

      Only the properly ignorant think this is about who has the biggest army

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by brkello (642429)

      Have you never moved away from your hometown? You have such a narrow world view it is staggering. We indeed have a special relationship with the UK. They are in the same boat as we are fighting against Islamic radicals. They are one of our closest allies. We may not comply with what they request but that would be due to the inability to enact something like that because of our Constitution. We certainly are close partners though and have a lot of cooperation. We are in this with them together.

  • Pressures? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trash eighty (457611) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:11PM (#34117692) Homepage

    Urges you mean, article title is a troll

  • the 1st amendment says we can't do that!

  • Free speech? Hardly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ffreeloader (1105115) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:18PM (#34117792) Journal

    There's this little thing called treason and it is defined in the constitution as follows: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

    Alwaki's videos most definitely fit this description and are thus treasonous speech. Treasonous speech is not protected by the constitution. I find it pathetic that any American would support treason against their own country. No wonder the terrorists think they can win.

  • by virtualXTC (609488) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:27PM (#34117896) Homepage
    The Glen Beck show has been shown to incite mass murder plots [jackandjillpolitics.com]. If Google is going to be "forced" to remove these videos, then they should have to remove all Glen Beck videos too.
  • by trims (10010) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:44PM (#34118068) Homepage

    Frankly, the request from the British government, both to YouTube (and other companies) and to the US Government is all three: reasonable , legal, and likely to happen.

    Reasonable in that these videos (and, yes, I went out and looked at a couple, I'm not going to say where), have no redeeming social value. They're strictly (a) war propaganda (b) pure hate speech and (c) active statements of intent to commit violence. None of these characteristics provided any value to our societal discussion of ideas (which is what the 1st Amendment enshrines, but does not define). No one in either the US or the UK needs to see these for any reason other than military intelligence (which, we can get without allowing them to be made for public consumption).

    Legal in that according to both UK and US law, these videos fit within the various exceptions to protected speech (that is, they fit into well-defined categories of speech NOT afforded protection). Thus, it's entirely likely that the UK request to the US government will see some sort of follow-through by the US Executive branch, as the content of the videos isn't reasonably up for discussion as to the legality thereof - it's not like they have to be parsed for obscene vs offensive categorization, and I don't see any court ruling in favor of these videos being protected speech (here in the US). It's actually a pretty cut-and-dried case of Incitement to Violence.

    Likely as both the above cases point out, it's pretty much a no-brainer request to the US, as it doesn't run afoul of any of our laws, or even likely to produce a court case. In addition, for private providers, its very clear that they violate pretty much any T-O-S I've ever seen for posting public video or images.

    Free Speech is great, but there are well-defined (for very good reasons) exceptions to protection, and this stuff very clearly fits inside those exceptions.

    But, I do expect the various TLA agencies to continue to listen to al-Awalki - after all, he's giving them plenty of rope to hang himself by.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:04PM (#34118318) Journal

      Reasonable in that these videos (and, yes, I went out and looked at a couple, I'm not going to say where), have no redeeming social value. They're strictly (a) war propaganda (b) pure hate speech and (c) active statements of intent to commit violence.

      War propaganda and active statements of intent to commit violence *do* have societal value. Have you forgotten that our country was founded by revolutionaries?

      The value of hate speech is less obvious, but it's still clearly covered by the first amendment.

      That said, your analysis of the likely outcome is probably correct.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tehcyder (746570)

        War propaganda and active statements of intent to commit violence *do* have societal value. Have you forgotten that our country was founded by revolutionaries?

        Er, the British would have been quite within their rights to string up anyone who actually advocated violent physical revolution against them.

  • by sa1lnr (669048) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @06:51PM (#34118168)

    turn into pressures?

    Oh I get it, just more hyperbole that's guaranteed to get the colonial rebels frothing at the mouth? ;)

  • by mattack2 (1165421) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @07:43PM (#34118694)

    Am I misreading something? The article says that YouTube has policies to take various videos down, and says that "the British government has pressured the US government to take down privately hosted extremist web sites and videos", but it doesn't actually say that anything has been successfully taken down due to pressure from or legal actions by the US government.

  • News Flash (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spongman (182339) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @08:21PM (#34119078)

    news flash people:

    Google isn't congress. (yet)

    The 1st amendment doesn't apply. Google can censor whatever it wants on its properties.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

Working...