This week, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced her intention to proscribe the violent extremist group Atomwaffen Division (AWD).

AWD will be the fourth neo-Nazi group to be banned in the UK, joining National Action, Sonnenkrieg Division and Feuerkrieg Division.

While proscription principally involves harsher criminal penalties for members and supporters of banned groups, it is also a crucial means of removing the legal uncertainty that prevents platforms from removing harmful content. 

Since February 2021, the Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP) has included AWD in its list of monitored groups. The TCAP is a tool that collects verified terrorist content from designated and proscribed Islamist and far-right terrorist groups with the aim of supporting smaller tech companies in tackling terrorist use of their platforms. TCAP is grounded in the rule of law and therefore follows the legal proscription of terrorist groups by democratic nation states and supranational institutions.

The Government will list National Socialist Order as a formal alias of AWD, meaning it will be assessed as the same organisation. The TCAP has also been monitoring the activities of National Socialist Order, and over the past few months has alerted platforms such as Bitchute, Telegram and Wire to channels and accounts associated with the group, in all cases leading to successful removal. 

Adam Hadley, Director of Tech Against Terrorism, said:

“Violent, white supremacist groups such as Atomwaffen Division pose an increasing threat to our national security, and the Government should be commended for acting decisively. 

Proscription of groups such as Atomwaffen Division removes legal uncertainty that hinders platforms from taking down harmful content. By updating and maintaining proscription lists regularly, the Government can help smaller tech companies take swift action against terrorist and violent extremist groups online. 

We have campaigned for years to promote the designation of terrorist and violent extremist groups, and we hope that the Government’s actions beckon a more robust approach to proscription from the Proscription Review Group.”