Tech Against Terrorism’s Knowledge Sharing Platform (KSP) was successfully launched by the United Nations Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UN CTED) and the Republic of Korea at an event at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The launch was divided into three sessions, and was attended by representatives from a range of tech companies and several member states.

The first session included keynote speeches from representatives of the governments of the Republic of Korea, Spain, and Switzerland, the UN CTED, and the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) represented by Google, all of whom have worked with and provided assistance to the Tech Against Terrorism project.

All speakers noted the importance of public-private partnerships in battling the terrorist exploitation of technology, highlighting that comprehensive solutions that respect freedom of speech are needed to fight it. The UN CTED and the GIFCT representatives pointed out that there are alternative ways to counter terrorism that do not only include content removal, with the latter ensuring their commitment to support knowledge sharing, technological solutions, and counter-narrative messaging.

The panelists also recognised that smaller tech companies may need additional support in preventing terrorist use of their platforms, and praised the imminent launch of the Knowledge Sharing Platform. The Republic of Korea representative commended the Knowledge Sharing Platform “a forward-thinking initiative.” The Swiss representative called it a “formidable tool” that will help smaller tech companies build capacity to protect themselves, and noted that Tech Against Terrorism had taken the lead on this matter.

After the keynote speeches, Tech Against Terrorism’s project director, Adam Hadley, presented the Knowledge Sharing Platform and its main features. These included the risk assessment tools, sanctions lists, and recommendations on Terms of Service, content regulation, and transparency reporting. After Adam’s presentation, the UN CTED declared the Knowledge Sharing Platform officially launched.

The second session included speakers from larger tech companies Facebook, Telefonica, and Weibo, as well as a representative from the EU’s Directorate-General for Home Affairs.

Telefonica’s representative said that terrorism has forced cyber security to be on every business leader’s mind, adding that more tailor-made tools are needed to address both terrorist and criminal use of technology. The representative applauded Tech Against Terrorism for identifying and addressing this gap through the development and launch of the Knowledge Sharing Platform.

Facebook’s representative outlined some of the measures that the company has taken to prevent terrorist presence on their platform, which include both tech-driven solutions such as Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning but also human-driven solutions such as community reporting and expert analysis of potentially harmful content. The representative emphasised that counter-narrative messaging is important to promote, as it goes much further than censorship or content removal. Further, Facebook’s representative added that although the big tech companies possess a lot of knowledge, they have not been able to share it through a formal network, which Tech Against Terrorism has successfully created.

The session was closed by remarks from a representative of the EU’s Directorate-General for Home Affairs, who noted that private partnerships are vital to prevent terrorist exploitation of technology and that the EU fully supports the Knowledge Sharing Platform and look forward to working with the GIFCT.

The third session saw representatives from companies indicative of the type of companies that future Tech Against Terrorism members will be made up of. The representatives all came from different sectors: social media (After School), video-sharing platform (Vimeo), eCommerce (Etsy), and fintech (Stripe).

After School, a platform which allows teens to share their thoughts and content in an anonymous setting, said that they “wholeheartedly welcome the opportunity to take part of the Knowledge Sharing Platform,” as it will allow them to “develop fit for purpose solutions” to fight terrorism on their service. For After School, it is vital to find alternative solutions rather than content removal or approaches that infringe anonymity, as lack of anonymity would scare away After School’s user base.

Vimeo noted that they have previously been involved in informal knowledge sharing efforts, but that they look forward to working within the more formal framework that the Knowledge Sharing Platform provides. Vimeo said that having access to “expert analysis” and lists of groups and individuals that the Knowledge Sharing Platform provides will “help [them] a lot.”

This was echoed by Etsy, whose representative said that Knowledge Sharing Platform’s sanctions lists will help the platform identify both terrorists or terrorist groups, and that it may aid companies to more easily connect with civil society, NGOs, and experts in order to gain better understanding of terrorism and radicalisation.

Lastly, Stripe pointed out that running counter-terrorism efforts as a company requires vast amounts of resources, and that not even the large banks manage to do this perfectly. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect that startups and entrepreneurs within the payment industry will be able to do this without flaws. Stripe said that the Knowledge Sharing Platform will be useful in this regard, as it can “help startups navigate how to effectively counter terrorism.”

We would like to thank everyone who has supported the Knowledge Sharing Platform and Tech Against Terrorism. This includes the UN CTED, the governments of the Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland, companies Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft (the founding members of GIFCT), and ICT4Peace. Special thanks to the United Nations for hosting our launch event.

The event can be watched in its entirety here.