Outlawed Scottish neo-Nazi group Scottish Dawn still online

Campaigners have criticised the world's most popular blogging platform for continuing to host a banned Scottish neo-Nazi group.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd had previously described the group as vile.(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)Home Secretary Amber Rudd had previously described the group as vile.(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Home Secretary Amber Rudd had previously described the group as vile.(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Scottish Dawn was added to a list of proscribed organisations earlier this year after being identified as an alias of the far-right National Action, a group described as “vile” by Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP), an international not-for-profit group, said it was “deeply troubling” that WordPress, owned by San Francisco-based Automattic, continued to provide an online platform for the group.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Automattic said it took the issue of such content “very seriously” and was working to address extremist and terrorist propaganda.

An order laid before parliament in September stopped National Action operating under the names Scottish Dawn or NS131. It means anyone found to be a member of the organisations is committing a criminal offence which carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison.

CEP said it had written to WordPress at the end of November calling on the website to “cease its provision of technical services” to Scottish Dawn’s website.

However, the website remains live and CEP said it had not received a reply from parent company Automattic.

The group said WordPress’s hosting and technical support of other extremist and terrorist websites was “part of a disturbing pattern”.

David Ibsen, executive director of CEP, said: “The fact that WordPress continues to provide technical support to ScottishDawn.com even after the neo-Nazi group’s website was notified by CEP is deeply troubling. At the very least, it is evident that WordPress does not have in place an adequate system for quickly and transparently addressing flagged content, let alone spotting and blocking extremist and terrorist websites unprompted.”
Speaking earlier this year, Ms Rudd described National Action as a “vile racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic group which glorifies violence and stirs up hatred”.

The Home Secretary said she would not allow the group to “masquerade” under different names.

Scottish Dawn calls itself a “patriotic society for the defence of our race and nation active across Scotland”.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, the group has not published anything on its website since August.

In a statement posted earlier this week, Automattic
said it was “inevitable” WordPress would host content “which some may find offensive, distasteful, or even abhorrent”.

It added: “We have worked in conjunction with experts in online extremism, as well as law enforcement, to develop policies to specifically address extremist and terrorist propaganda. In short, we suspend websites that call for violence or that are connected to officially banned terrorist groups, regardless of content.”

The company said it had received 131 requests from government Internet Referral Units (IRUs) in 2017, resulting in the removal of content in 92 cases.