Max Hill QC, the terrorism legislation watchdog whose entire career has been summed up by The Times as “bringing terrorists to justice”, branded Theresa May’s proposals to fine internet companies if they do not do enough to remove terrorist content from their platforms as dictatorial and likened them to what takes place in China. He asked: “How do we measure ‘enough’? What is the appropriate sanction?” He went on to compare May’s proposals to the policies implemented in China: “We do not live in China, where the internet simply goes dark for millions when government so decides.”
The very strong comments were made at the Terrorism and Social Media conference in Swansea, Wales. Max Hill QC was appointed to be an independent reviewer of terrorism legislation by the Government in February 2017, a post Parliamentarians rely on heavily for advice on the proportionality of government legislation. The comments would have been per the norm had Max Hill QC been a privacy campaigner; given his central role in counter terrorism, the comments presage more significant challenges to government policy in the future.