On 15 February, Tech Against Terrorism held an introductory event to present our work at TechHub London, who kindly hosted us for the evening. The event was a good opportunity for us to further engage with the London startup community.
Tech Against Terrorism’s Project Director Adam Hadley kicked things off by introducing our work for the audience, which this evening consisted of members the TechHub London community, legal experts, cyber security professionals, fintechs, and civil society organisations. Adam went through some of our activities last year, which culminated with the launch of the Knowledge Sharing Platform (KSP), our “one-stop-shop” for operational guidance and tools to help tech companies confront terrorist exploitation of their platforms. Adam demonstrated some of the features of the KSP, which include guidance on content regulation, transparency reporting, Terms of Service, as well as terrorist terminology and the UN Security Council sanctions lists.
Since our research shows that smaller tech companies and “micro-platforms” are increasingly targeted by terrorists, Adam highlighted that there needs to be a stronger focus on supporting such platforms. One of the initiatives that we are launching this year which aims to help with this is the Data Science Network (DSN). The DSN will consist a network of developers, academics, and researchers from the machine-learning and data analytics fields who will work to develop easily deployable tools to help small tech companies fight terrorism on their services. The DSN will launch in Montreal on 14 March, with a follow-up event scheduled for Summer 2018 in London.
We were also delighted to have Dr Joseph Downing from the London School of Economics and Andy McDonald, formerly of Scotland Yard and the London Metropolitan Police, join us for the evening to share their thoughts on some of the challenges with regards to technology and terrorism.
Joseph, who researches the usages and impacts of social media, pointed out that technology has always been used by malicious actors. However, more recent groups like ISIS have showcased efficiency and innovation in both producing and disseminating impactful propaganda. Further, Joseph noted the difficulty of adequately responding to terrorist online content, as content removal is not always efficient and may in the long run have negative implications for freedom of speech.
After that, Andy gave us an insightful presentation on terrorist financing. Andy, who has worked on counterterrorism for the Metropolitan Police and in the Scotland Yard’s anti-fraud team, told us about some of the commonly used methods employed by terrorist financers, which include everything from small-scale fraud to larger organised crime networks. Andy ended by encouraging fintech companies to take proactive measures to ensure that they are not exploited by terrorists.
Following Andy’s presentation, we held an open Q&A session together with audience, and were able to touch upon topics such as cyber security, whether digital identification systems will help stem terrorist exploitation of technology, and the various ways to confront online terrorist content.
We would like to thank TechHub London for hosting us and all those who attended.