U.K. Anti-Terrorism Efforts Are Terrifying to Anybody Who Favors Free Speech

Clicking the "wrong" link can get you interrogated by the authorities-and the situation may soon get worse.


View Pictures/Hufton and Crow/VIEW/Newscom

When you have an overreaching government "anti-terrorism" program tasked with countering violent ideological messages, anything that rubs officialdom the wrong way starts looking like extremist propaganda. That includes, it turns out, a standard-issue lefty reading-assignment at England's University of Reading: Cautious about how the message might be perceived, school officials warned students reading Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution "not to access it on personal devices, to read it only in a secure setting, and not to leave it lying around where it might be spotted" so as to avoid the attention of the "Prevent" program.

Part of a larger anti-terrorism strategy, Prevent was designed to prevent radicalization and seeks to monitor supposedly vulnerable people for evidence of extremism in the materials they peruse and the ideology they express. The idea is that, once identified, these individuals can be steered by authorities away from negative outcomes.

But Prevent suffered mission-creep pretty much right out of the gate, notes J.D. Tuccille. And it's poised to get a lot worse.