terror bill could turn academics into criminals

Polly Curtis and Matthew Taylor in The Guardian:

The Association of University Teachers says the new offences of encouraging or training for terrorism could effectively outlaw an ethics debate about political violence, or a chemistry lesson.

“The major problem is you don’t need proof that you are intending to encourage terrorism,” says Jonathan Whitehead, the AUT’s head of parliamentary and public affairs. “And on the training law, the definition is anyone who ‘knows or suspects’ that the training could be used for terrorist purposes. Lecturers will have to start having suspicions about their students.”

Now Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, has taken up the issue, alongside the AUT and Sconul. Vivienne Stern, public affairs advisor to Universities UK, says: “The bill is unacceptably wide and will, in our view, expose academic staff and librarians – and by virtue of that the university management – to the risk of committing criminal offences during their standard work.”

More here.