Smart Regulation and Smart Technology

Regulatory and Technological Efforts as well as Challenges to Counter the Misuse of Internet and Social Media Services by Terrorist Groups

The misuse of modern communications technologies, in particular internet services and social media applications by terrorist organizations has been a challenge for counter-terrorism efforts for many years. With the development of sophisticated communication applications, terrorist organizations demonstrated the ability to consistently adapt to new technologies, using the internet and social media to propagate, train, recruit, communicate and organize financing. This threat significantly increased with the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant since 2014. The aftermath of the tragic terror attack by a radical right-wing terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand made clear that the misuse of the opportunities offered by the internet and social media technology - is a common pattern of all terrorist organizations and individuals.

As a reaction to this situation, the public debate concerning the corporate social responsibility of the tech sector to ensure that their services are not misused for terrorist purposes intensified in recent years. Industry leaders reacted with a series of public promises to improve their monitoring capabilities. Unfortunately, these promises were followed by only incremental, incomplete and often late improvements in their performance. After several years during which self-regulatory industry driven approaches - proved not to be sufficient, the Federal Republic of Germany adopted the Netzdurchsetzungsgesetz (NetzDG) in 2017, a first attempt to find a balanced but efficient regulatory solution. Currently, the European Union is working on a similar approach, requiring tech companies and platform providers to remove terrorist content from their platforms within one hour of flagging and ensure that this content cannot be re-uploaded.

Since its inception, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) has been a supporter of smart, effective and efficient regulatory solutions to this challenge. It has been involved as an advisory body to several governments as well as European Union officials in the ongoing debate and has developed eGLYPH, an innovative software tool, allowing the effective and cost-efficient removal of pre-defined terrorist content from any platform.

The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) is providing dedicated technical assistance to requesting Member States to prevent and counter the abuse of the internet for terrorism purposes, while ensuring rule of law-based approaches. Through its UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), UNOCT is also implementing a project to support Member States to exploit information on the internet and social media for investigations on Foreign Terrorist Fighters, in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa region. In close coordination with the Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), UNOCT is also supporting Member States in fostering public private partnerships and in involving industry in finding balanced regulatory solutions.

Hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations, CEP and the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT) invite you to a brown bag lunch and roundtable discussion centered on regulatory and technological efforts and challenges to counter the misuse of the internet and social media applications by terrorist organizations.

When:   Thursday, April 25, 2019 -- 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.

Where:  Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations, 

              871 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA

              (1St Avenue between 48th and 49th Street)


Ambassador Jürgen Schulz, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations

Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov, United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism

Gilles de Kerchove, Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, European Union     

Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, Senior Director, Counter Extremism Project


To register for the event, please click here

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

We reiterate once again that the brigades will directly target US bases across the region in case the US enemy commits a folly and decides to strike our resistance fighters and their camps [in Iraq].

Abu Ali al-Askari, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) Security Official Mar. 2023
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