European Union justice ministers have agreed that using the Internet to publish bomb recipes or call for acts of terrorism to be committed should count as a criminal offence.
Offenders may be punished with prison sentences
The 27 member states agreed on Friday, April 18, to introduce as new offences "public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, recruitment, and training for terrorism" which would be punishable "also when committed through the Internet."
People found guilty of "disseminating terrorist propaganda and bomb-making expertise through the Internet can therefore be prosecuted and sentenced to prison," the justice ministers said in a joint statement.
The commission's proposal would also allow EU law-enforcement agencies to demand cooperation from Internet providers in order to identify the people making such calls and to ensure that the offending material is taken off-line.
Closing gaps in prior legislation
The EU's counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said last week that some 5,000 Internet sites "contribute to radicalizing young people in Europe."
In 2002, the EU member states agreed common rules for fighting terrorism, but those rules didn't include Internet-based calls to commit terrorist acts.
While some details of the proposal still need to be finalized, Friday's agreement signifies a basic level of support, making it unlikely that any member states would oppose its adoption.