Attack in London
The recent Islamist terror attack in London is the latest reminder that the extremists have not gone away and have not given up. As one commentator succinctly put it the weapons at the man's disposal, a car and a knife, are the sort of implements that everyone in the country has access to. In that context it is becoming much clearer that it is the environments in which these people are allowed to grow and develop their warped ideologies that are the most pressing areas of concern when it comes to tackling the whole issue of Islamist extremism.
What is very clear is that when it comes to extremism, of nearly any sort, most of it has found a home on the web. While there are of course issues relating to freedom of speech this always has to be weighed up against the rights of individuals to go about their daily business in peace and safety.
It is interesting to think that in an age when the most powerful country on earth is trying to find out whether computer hackers from a hostile country had any effect on their recent Presidential elections there are still many places on the web where you can go and easily access many different sites where extremism of all kinds and their individual agendas is being pushed. And that is even before you talk about the 'dark web' where the security is so tight and people so anonymous that you can do, let alone say, anything that you want.
It is very difficult to talk about policing the web because one of the founding principles of the internet was to bring people together and not to interfere with that right. But it is very hard to square that idea with what is actually happening with a lot of extremist sites on the net.
Marks and Spencers just last week suspended it's advertising with Google due to the fact that it was hosting extremist sites alongside it's own advertising for the company. Perhaps it is when these large companies such as Google, which dominate the vast amount of traffic on the net, are hit in the pocket that they will take the necessary steps to clean up much of what is on there.
It would be naive to think that getting rid of extremist sites on the net would get rid of extremists but it is a necessary step. The internet is a potent weapon in the hands of the terrorists and they have used it so far to devastating effect, isn't it time that it was turned against them?
For a long time the web has been the Pandora's Box of our time, full of the horrors and hope of what people are capable of. But in the end it is only as good or as bad as the people that use it and using it and exploiting it's power shouldn't really be left in the hands of those would take a car and a knife into the center of London with the aim of killing as many people as possible.