Social Media & Online
Social media and online activity are now relied upon in virtually all terrorism related cases in court.
This has placed ever-increasing scrutiny on electronic material, especially web browser history and instant messaging applications.
With ever growing mass surveillance and with data gathered being used by corporate and government bodies in order to snoop on the lives of ordinary citizens, it’s important that we are aware and avoid falling foul of the legal limits online.
All the things you cannot do in “real life”:
- It is an offence to “support a proscribed organisation”, or publish images that may give the impression that you support them – for example wearing clothes with their logo on it.
- Do not view, download or possess material produced by Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other banned groups like Hezbollah or the PKK – unless you can show this was for academic or journalistic purposes.
- It is an offence to collect record or possess information likely to be used to commit or prepare an act of terrorism, even if you never intended to use the material in that way.
- Do not share material by banned groups such as Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and others, even if you are doing so as a joke or to stir up debate.
You should behave as you would normally and engage in reading, enquiring, exchanging ideas, commenting and having a rich intellectual and social life.
Self-censorship is one of the aims of mass surveillance and we should resist it.
Everyone has a right to inform themselves from various and independent sources as well as to share critical thoughts and ideas.
Do not engage with anyone who may be encouraging you to commit acts of violence, seeking information from you on how to travel to fight abroad, asking you to send money or trying to arrange a marriage in a conflict zone.
Such individuals are:
- Either involved in criminal activities, putting you at risk of committing an offence.
- Undercover agents from the police or security services
- Mass surveillance:
Government agencies such as the GCHQ and large companies routinely store people’s data. In some instances, security agencies might target specific individuals and intercept their communications.
- Publicly available data:
For example on social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Linkedin.
- While travelling:
Your electronics can be accessed and seized without a warrant if you are stopped at ports of entry and exit under Schedule 7.
Police routinely seize electronics during house searches to examine their contents. This includes phones, laptops, games consoles and tablets.
Authorities can request to access your data or devices without a warrant if you consent.
- Through other people:
Other people may have had their data seized via the means mentioned above. Any communications you have had with them may also be scrutinised. For example, WhatsApp messages, Facebook conversations, text messages, emails etc.
The authorities may wish to profile you and will use the data and material taken from your devices, whether legal or otherwise, to inform their thinking.
You should continue to behave normally, online and offline, but just be conscious that certain material, although legal, can be used to suggest you are of a particular mindset.
Yes, there is, and there are ways to protect our rights online and offline.
However, in public matters, and especially in relation to criminal offences, the authorities can seek to access our private material.
There are numerous reliable tools, which can help to protect your privacy.
- Using end-to-end encryption:
By using encrypted messaging applications and tools you can ensure to a high degree that your communications remain private and away from prying eyes. We recommend you use a messaging app called Signal.
- Using encrypted and private browsing:
By ensuring that you browse the net securely, you can protect your web browsing data from being exploited by unscrupulous actors. For example, use the Tor browser.
- Have strong passwords:
This means having a password composed of a minimum of four or more words, using symbols and numbers. Where possible, have two-factor authentication in place or go one step further and use a password manager to keep your data secure.
- Protect your devices:
This may be an obvious one, but if you misplace, lose or forget your device then you will be immediately at risk of your data being compromised.
“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”
– Edward Snowden
The way rights work is that the government has to justify why it has to infringe upon them. If we do not protect this right to maintain privacy, we will be helping to bring about a society where the private space is no longer protected, and there is an atmosphere where everyone is assumed guilty and has to go to great lengths to prove themselves innocent.
- Educate yourself:
Learn about the issues by reading our article “Why Muslims should oppose mass surveillance” and The Intercept’s “Edward Snowden explains how to reclaim your privacy”.
- Empower yourself:
Reclaim your online privacy. Read the Surveillance Self Defence step by step guide here: https://ssd.eff.org/en