See Something, Say Something (UK Edition) has arrived! In the wake of terrorist attacks, local law enforcement are urging people to report "suspicious" activities. There's a long list of things to be on the lookout for, but most notable is the call to view certain internet use as suspicious, as Joseph Cox reports.
Police in the capital have reportedly been handing out leaflets listing what authorities deem as suspicious activity, in the hope that vigilant community members can continue to provide helpful information to law enforcement. Perhaps, in a sign of how online communities play an increased role in radicalization, the leaflet specifically points to use of the dark web as a potential link to terrorism.
"Be aware of what is going on around you—of anything that strikes you as different or unusual, or anyone that you feel is acting suspiciously—it could be someone you know or even someone or something you notice when you are out and about that doesn't feel quite right," another version of the leaflet, which is part of a national campaign and not London specific, reads.
Specifically, it asks citizens to report someone "visiting the dark web or purchasing unusual items online." Not exactly the sort of thing one's likely to catch shoulder-surfing. The leaflet also recommends reporting people for engaging in suspicious photography -- something that's worked out oh so well here in the US.
As Cox points out, tying terrorism to dark web use is kind of pointless. While the dark web is no doubt used by some terrorists, it certainly isn't where most of their activity takes place.
[M]uch of the communication between Islamic State supporters takes place on social media, such as Telegram. And the group's and supporters' propaganda videos are often distributed on everyday social network sites.
What an "education" campaign like this has the potential to do is turn any deviation from normal web use into something inherently suspicious. If law enforcement likes chasing down worthless tips, depicting things non-terrorists do as terrorist-centric is a good way to get that ball rolling.
I don't doubt the public can play a part in preventing terrorist attacks, but the leaflet asks citizens to become intrusive extensions of the government. Most citizens aren't going to know whether their friends and neighbors surf the dark web, much less have any idea if they're "carrying out suspicious transactions on their bank account." The upshot will be a generalized heightened level of suspicion that will most likely manifest itself as expressions of citizens' inherent biases and bigotry.