Universities play a vital role in carrying out research on issues where security-sensitive material is relevant. This guidance concerns the searching, storage, and circulation of security sensitive research material. If circulated carelessly, such material is sometimes open to misinterpretation by the authorities, and can put authors in danger of arrest and prosecution under for example, counter-terrorism legislation. This guidance provides an overview of the policies and procedures associated with this type of research in the University of South Wales.
In their line of work, researchers may not only download material that is security-sensitive but also visit security sensitive websites. Such visits may be interpreted by police or security services as evidence of sympathy for, and perhaps even willingness to collude with the activity that they are researching. Therefore there is great potential for honest intentions to be misinterpreted where the subject matter might be extreme groups or terrorism.
The Terrorism Act (2006) outlaws the dissemination of records, statements and other documents that can be interpreted as promoting or endorsing terrorist acts. Sections of the Terrorism Act also create a risk of prosecution for those who transmit material of this nature, including transmitting this material electronically. The storage of such material on a computer can, if discovered, prompt a police investigation. Again, visits to websites related to jihadism and downloading of material issued by jihadist groups (even from open-access sites) may be subject to monitoring by the police.
This guidance aims to facilitate an environment within which the issues associated with security-sensitive related materials can be explored and researched safely. Where the University is contacted by external agencies it is enabled to diffuse potentially damaging situations where work has been registered and logged centrally.