Controversial 'anti-terror' bill gets royal assent in UK

Much -criticized bill grants more power to British intelligence and security agencies.

Controversial 'anti-terror' bill gets royal assent in UK
World Bulletin / News Desk
Britain's controversial Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill has received royal assent.

The signing by Queen Elizabeth II of the bill -- which has been widely attacked by civil rights groups, experts and academics -- means the bill comes into force almost immediately.

The legislation grants more powers to British intelligence and security agencies and places obligations on universities, schools, prisons and local councils to take measures to "prevent people being drawn into terrorism."

The Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures also allow U.K. authorities to temporarily cancel the passports of suspects at the border.

Data on maritime and rail passengers will also be screened and shared with other "partner" states under the measures.

Storm of protest

Home Secretary Theresa May unveiled the bill in the Parliament last November, saying it was aimed at preventing the return to the UK of British citizens suspected of being involved in "terrorist activities" abroad.

In text presented as a "news story" on a U.K. government website, Home Office officials wrote: "Tough new powers to seize passports at the border from those suspected of travelling to Syria or Iraq will come into force within 24 hours, as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill today received Royal Assent.

"The measure will bolster existing passport removal powers and allow police to temporarily disrupt individuals of concern who are attempting to leave the UK while further investigations are carried out."

"From today, the Home Secretary will also have the power to relocate those subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures and require them to attend meetings with probation staff and others as part of their ongoing case management," it added.

But the measures have met a storm of protest.

- 'Unlawful and unenforceable'

In an open letter published by The Guardian on Feb. 2, more than 500 university professors urged the Home Secretary Theresa May to "urgently rethink her proposals" to curb campus "extremists" saying it placed "an unlawful and unenforceable duty on educational institutions and staff."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron also announced an additional £130 million ($200 million) of funding to "strengthen counter-terrorism capabilities."

The moves comes after The Guardian reported a 1,500-strong force formed from British army units, based in Hermitage, Berkshire, would be launched in April, tasked with attempting to control narrative in online, social and other media platforms.

The move has been seen as an attempt by the British government to copy heavy psychological operations currently in use by the Israeli and U.S. military.

- Military engagement 

The Israeli army pioneered state military engagement with social media, with specialist teams tasked with influencing commentary and content since its Operation Cast Lead in the war in Gaza in 2008-9, The Guardian reported in January.

The Israeli military operates in six languages across 30 platforms including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, it reported.

The British government says up to 500 Britons have traveled abroad to take part in fighting in Syria and Iraq.

British police have detained more than 200 people suspected over terrorism

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Şubat 2015, 17:52