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Praising ISIS online could land you in jail


Could one retweet land you in jail?

The Department of Justice on Tuesday announced that it would consider bringing criminal charges against people who spread ISIS propaganda on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

 Assistant Attorney General John Carlin was speaking at an event called "Cybersecurity for a New America" when he was asked if the DOJ would consider criminal charges against an individual involved in "proliferating ISIS social media sites or involved in ISIS social media production."

"Yes," Carlin answered. "You need to look at the particular facts and evidence."

Carlin explained that material-support laws prohibit providing "services" to a terrorist group such as "technical expertise," and that these laws can and have been used to bring charges under similar circumstances.

"What kind of legal code should be on the books to allow you to bring criminal charges before someone commits a terrorist act?" Carlin asked. Over 20 countries have adopted American-style legal approaches to material-support prosecutions, he said.

Just last week, four young Americans were arrested in an alleged attempt to join ISIS after investigators tracked their jihadist social media posts.

The legal and constitutional support for Carlin's ideas seem slim at best. 

“It’s highly doubtful that the material support statute could be constitutionally applied to the simple promotion of a terrorist group on Facebook,” David Greene, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's civil liberties director, told the Daily Beast.

Carlin's remarks have been widely criticized on social media, though his office hasn't returned requests for comment from various media outlets.

H/T Daily Beast | Illustration by Max Fleishman

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