Wales’ Cardiff University is reportedly helping police track online “hate speech” with a tool called HateLab.
According to the BBC, HateLab is “aimed at helping police pre-empt crimes on the streets, and will “look at ‘trigger’ events like terrorism and Brexit and how they may motivate hate crimes.”
The tool, which uses “cutting-edge ethical artificial intelligence,” is reportedly being used to help “Wales’ four police forces, Greater Manchester Police, Welsh Government and hate crime charities.”
Cardiff University Professor Matthew Williams cited Brexit as a reason to develop the tool.
“Whatever the outcome, be it a second referendum, a soft-Brexit or a no-Brexit, there is concern that events will motivate more hate crime,” Professor Williams proclaimed. “As we saw following the 2016 vote, and to a more extreme extent following the 2017 terror attacks, surges in online hate speech coincided with significant increases in hate crimes offline.”
Unlike the U.S., the U.K. has no laws completely protecting freedom of speech, and has several laws against “hate speech.”
“A number of different UK laws outlaw hate speech. Among them is Section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986 (POA), which makes it an offence for a person to use ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour that causes, or is likely to cause, another person harassment, alarm or distress’,” explained the Week in November. “This law has been revised over the years to include language that is deemed to incite ‘racial and religious hatred’, as well as ‘hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation’ and language that ‘encourages terrorism’.”
“In October the Law Commission announced that it would conduct a wide-ranging review into hate crime to explore how to make current legislation more effective and to consider if there should be additional protected characteristics such as misogyny and age,” the Week added.