The Law Council of Australia has joined civil liberty groups, journalists and advocacy groups to sound the alarm on proposed laws to criminalise the accessing of violent extremist material, saying the new powers are unnecessary and may inadvertently interfere with legitimate dissent.
The Australian federal government is seeking to expand counter-terror powers by introducing new offences for possessing or controlling violent extremist material using a carriage service.
The purpose is to address what the government says is a gap in current law, which it says only criminalises the accessing of such material if it is done in connection with a planned terrorist act.
But the Law Council of Australia warned the government of the “need to proceed with caution” in creating offences for simply accessing or possessing material, pointing to changing trends on social media, where “scrolling” through digital platforms made unwitting consumption more common.
It also warned the broad definition of “violent extremism material” also risked criminalising the access of material related to “legitimate matters of political dissent or struggle”.
Read more at The Guardian.
- The People’s Review of Prevent (Report, 2023)
- LSE Blog: Conflating Charity and Extremism is a Political Mistake (News, 2023)
- Human Rights and the Globalisation of Counter-Extremism (Reports, 2018)