Controversial counter-terror policy in UK education networks

Summary:The UK government in recent weeks has strongly advised colleges and universities to monitor networks for Islamic fundamentalism and extremism. With the release of a "toolkit" by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, students are asking questions about their civil liberties.

The UK government in recent weeks has strongly advised colleges and universities to monitor networks for Islamic fundamentalism and extremism. With the release of a "toolkit" by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, students are asking questions about their civil liberties.

This such move which went highly unreported when the news first broke, has been highly criticised by colleges, universities and student unions.

To put it simply, the government is pushing forward a policy which it strongly recommends all educational networks comply with, to ensure:

"...the prevention of staff or students from accessing illegal or inappropriate material through college ICT systems, including having appropriate monitoring systems in place with recourse to police and other partners as necessary."

This comes after a massive controversy at the University of Nottingham, near where I used to live, when two students were arrested under the Terrorism Act in relation to possession of radical material - which were also widely available on a US government website.

al-Qaeda, as a "network", is simply a blanket term for those engaged in terrorist related activities in the West. As the British Security Service has pointed out in a leaked document to a US website some months ago, and also being highlighted in the DIUS document on page 8:

"They can come from a range of geographical areas, from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and include a number of converts to Islam."

And:

"[The document] concludes that it is not possible to draw up a typical profile of the "British terrorist" as most are "demographically unremarkable" and simply reflect the communities in which they live.

Besides the fear this new policy could ostracise the Muslim communities, it's understandable if students are feeling limited in specific areas of study, or feel uncomfortable in the level of survellience we as students are under.

The Home Office declined to comment on this story. Typical. Post your thoughts on this by leaving a comment below.

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Topics: Networking, Browser, Enterprise Software, Government, Government : US, Software, Software Development

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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