MOSCOW, October 2 (RIA Novosti) -The authorities of the United Kingdom and Australia risk undermining democratic procedures by imposing excessive restrictions on media and social networks under the pretext of fighting terrorism, Elena Zinovyeva of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) told RIA Novosti Thursday.
"It should be taken into account that excessive restrictions on mass media might challenge democratic procedures in the named countries [UK and Australia]," Zinovyeva said, adding that the development of internet calls for a certain shift of the balance between the freedom of mass media and the security of a state, but this balance should not be changed without taking into account the fundamental principles of democracy.
Earlier this week, speaking at a Conservative Party's conference, UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans to considerably tighten up national security legislation to fight terrorism, in particular stemming from the Islamic State (IS) group, should the party win the 2015 election.
May proposed to ban radical Islamist extremists from making public appearances, including on television, and from expressing their ideas on internet and social media. The maximum sentence for those breaking the proposed ban could be up to 10 years.
Earlier this week, Australian Parliament passed a law, presupposing similar punishment for disclosing information concerning special intelligence operations. The new legislation introduced by the country’s government in attempt to boost security in the wake of a terrorist threat from the Islamic State (IS) also bans copying, transcribing, retaining and recording intelligence materials. The measure has been criticized by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which is concerned that the law makes no exemptions for the media professionals.