During the 72nd United Nations General Assembly week, a high-level meeting was convened by the United Kingdom, France and Italy on “Preventing Terrorist Use of the Internet”. Representatives from the Global Internet Forum to Counter terrorism, consisting of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, were invited to make interventions, along with representatives from governments including the Deputy Director of Homeland Security Claire M. Grady, the Prime Minister of Netherlands Mark Rutte and the Foreign Minister of Morocco Nasser Bourita.

There was broad consensus on the important role of the private sector, and its engagement by the international community. Referring in particular to social media companies, The Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni asserted that fighting terrorism is an aspect of corporate social responsibility: “We have to encourage it and consider necessity to push it forward.” Representing the GIFCT, Kent Walker (Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Alphabet; Google) spoke of GIFCT’s three main areas of focus: 1) Leveraging Technology, 2) Researching Patterns of Recognition, and 3) Knowledge-Sharing. Kent Walker commended the Tech Against Terrorism workshop with Facebook on 18 September, as an example of sharing best practices between small tech companies.

Nasser Bourita, the Foreign Minister of Morocco, spoke of the successes of the international community in fighting ISIS on the ground, and cautioned that the next battle was one for “minds against jihadist propaganda and using new information technologies”. Specifically, Mr. Bourita emphasised the vulnerability of young people who are primarily active on the internet to the propaganda of terrorist and violent extremists. Mr Bourita applauded the efforts the Tech Against Terrorism project for promoting industry self-regulation and facilitating sharing best practices between stakeholders.

Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of Netherlands, cautioned governments of regulating the internet, arguing that “regulating the internet is not a cure all”. Mr. Rutte also welcomed the industry’s engagement in fighting against terrorist use of technology, and called for big tech companies to involve smaller companies. The Prime Minister also challenged the argument of balancing security measures with freedom of expression and privacy, asserting that “we must maintain online freedoms in a way that safeguards freedom of expression.”

You can watch the recorded footage of this event here.