England is at a historical crossroad for the governance of land and the natural environment. Actions for addressing and adapting to climate change, achieving food security and tackling the biodiversity crisis are all embedded in and depend on how land is managed. Existing Government policy and targets have so far failed to address many of these complexities of land, farming and the natural environment.
Documents to download
Online extremism (243 KB , PDF)
Extremism lacks a clear definition, which has contributed to difficulty in regulating it. The UK Government characterises extremism as “opposition to fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and respect and tolerance for different faiths and beliefs”. However, this definition lacks the legal precision for extremism to be grounded in UK law. Extremism is not the same as terrorism. However, exposure to extremism can encourage an individual’s support for terrorist tactics. Assessing the scale of exposure to extremist content is difficult. People may access it covertly, unknowingly or be unsure whether they should report it.
The internet may facilitate extremism in multiple ways, including recruitment, socialisation, communication, networking and mobilisation. Content can be posted instantly without verification, so information can be produced rapidly and disseminated widely. Contributors consciously evade detection by using multiple accounts and avoiding specific terms. Responsibility for regulating the internet is shared across multiple public and private bodies, including government, counter-terrorism police and private internet companies. Existing counter-extremism strategies include content removal (often using automatic detection) and deplatforming (removal of a group or individual from an online platform), as well as social interventions. Many stakeholders believe that current counter-extremism responses are too focused on law and technology, and do not address the underlying reasons that people are drawn to extremist content. UK Government, public sector practitioners and industry stakeholders have called for a coordinated response to address the range of social and technological challenges around extremism. In 2019, the UK Government put forward proposals to address online extremism in the Online Harms White Paper.
- The internet can leave users vulnerable to social challenges, which creates opportunities for extremism to spread. Users can be exposed to extremism in multiple ways, including through recruitment and socialisation.
- Extremist content may be found on mainstream social media sites and ‘alt-tech’ platforms, which replicate the functions of mainstream social media but have been created or co-opted for the unconventional needs of specific users.
- Automatic detection can be used to moderate extremist content on a large scale. However, this is prone to false positives and may disproportionately impact a particular group, which can fuel mistrust in the state.
- Many stakeholders believe that current counter-extremism responses are too focused on law and technology, and do not address the underlying reasons that people are drawn to extremist content. Individual and societal interventions aim to identify underlying socio-economic and cultural contributors and implement protective factors to reduce how many people develop extremist views.
POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer-reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:
- Clean Up The Internet
- Commission for Countering Extremism
- Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit
- Home Office*
- Moonshot CVE*
- Dr Stephane Baele, University of Exeter
- Professor Mark Bellis, Public Health Wales*
- Ben Bradley, techUK*
- Joseph Briefel, Integrity UK
- Dr Chico Camargo, Oxford Internet Institute
- Professor Maura Conway, Dublin City University
- Professor Paul Gill, University College London*
- Dr Scott Hale, Oxford Internet Institute
- Dr Katie Hardcastle, Public Health Wales*
- Ivan Humble, Me & You Education
- Haydn Kemp, College of Policing*
- Ashton Kingdon, Southampton University
- Alex Krasodomski-Jones, Demos
- Dr Benjamin Lee, Lancaster University*
- Dr Caroline Logan, Greater Manchester NHS Mental Health Trust
- Professor Stuart Macdonald, Swansea University
- Dr Raffaello Pantucci, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies*
- Dr Lorenzo Pasculli, Coventry University*
- Dr Bertie Vidgen, Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University*
- Charlie Winter, Kings College London
* denotes people and organisations who acted as external reviewers of the briefing
Documents to download
Online extremism (243 KB , PDF)
"Smart cities" describes places that incorporate a range of technologies (especially those that collect and use data) to address economic, social, and environmental challenges. Projects usually take place in urban areas, but are also deployed in rural settings. This POSTnote looks at smart city innovation in the UK and the technologies involved. It considers the factors driving the adoption of smart city technologies, and the potential benefits, barriers and risks associated with their implementation.
The incorporation of digital technologies in the energy sector can support progress towards key UK objectives such as achieving Net Zero emissions targets. It can also transform current methods of energy generation, transmission, regulation, and trading. This POSTnote presents an overview of key digital technologies and their main applications in the energy sector. It provides an overview of the potential benefits to using these technologies, and recent developments in this area. It describes the role of data in underpinning digital technologies in the sector, and some of the issues raised by its use. It also discusses broader challenges associated with energy sector digitalisation and measures that could help address them, including issues related to technology, regulation, and impact on consumers.