Reader’s Digest – 7 May 2021

Our weekly review of articles on terrorist and violent extremist use of the internet, counterterrorism, digital rights, and tech policy.


Webinar Alert

  • We are delighted to have opened registration for our upcoming webinar, “The Nuts and of Bolts of Counter Narratives: What works and why?”, to be held on 27 May at 5pm BST. This webinar features as a part of our TAT & GIFCT E-Learning Webinar Series and an agenda will be coming soon. Please register here. 

    Stay tuned for the agenda announcement on our Twitter!

Tech Against Terrorism Updates

  • Tech Against Terrorism’s Director, Adam Hadley, and Research Analyst, Anne Craanen, presented on the TCAP for  the Digital and Social Media Action Group organised by the Global Coalition Against Daesh.
     
  • We are excited to announce that an updated version of the  Knowledge Sharing Platform (KSP) will be re-launched to tech platforms soon. The KSP is a collection of interactive tools and resources designed to support the operational needs of smaller tech platforms. It is a “one stop shop” for companies to access practical resources to support their counterterrorism and transparency efforts. Stay tuned for announcements about the launch!

Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP) Updates

  • The April newsletter of the Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP) is coming out soon! Don’t forget to subscribe to it for updates on development progress, webinars, and other updates!
     
  • We hosted our April sessions of the TCAP office hours. This is one of the steps we are taking to ensure that the platform is developed in a transparent manner. If you would like to access a recording of these sessions, you can reach out to us at [email protected].

Top Stories

  • New Zealand’s newly proposed Counter-Terrorism Bill has passed its first reading and will now be put before the Parliament’s Justice select committee. 
     
  • The Facebook Oversight Board has upheld Facebook’s decision on January 7, 2021 to ban former President Trump from both Facebook and Instagram. 

    Emma Llanso and Caitlin Vogus  from the Center of Democracy and Technology summarise  the main unanswered questions following the Oversight Board’s decision to uphold Facebook’s decision to ban Trump from its platforms.
     
  • Google, Twitter, and Facebook have asked the Australian government to consider alternative measures from a complete ban on violent extremist and terrorist material set out in the recently adopted Online Safety Bill,  highlighting concerns that this push nefarious actors to platforms that are less willing to moderate online discussions. 
     
  • Facebook has provided an update on the policy workshops it has been conducting on the future of private messaging, detailing the key takeaways from these discussions with various stakeholder.

    This update was written by Gail Kent, who spoke at our webinar on “Countering terrorist use of emerging technologies: Assessing the risks of terrorist use of E2EE and related mitigation strategies”.

    If you were unable to attend the webinar and would like to access a recording, please get in touch with us at [email protected].
     
  • Germany’s interior minister has said that far-right extremism and terrorism pose the biggest threat to the country’s stability, following over 24,000 far-right crimes – ranging from displaying Nazi symbols to physical attacks and murder – last year. 
     
  • Human Rights Watch has urged the United Nations to include nongovernmental organisations in talks on a global cybercrime treaty, commencing on May 10, 2021, to ensure measures will not lead to human rights abuses. 
     
  • The Irish government has proposed legislation to establish a new media commission to regulate social media and particularly the online abuse of female politicians and journalists.

    To read more on the abuse experienced by journalists, particularly female journalists, by the extreme far-right, please see this report from Hope Not Hate. 
     
  • GNET has published a report that provides an overview of domestic extremism in the United States, following the attack on the Capitol on January 6 2021. 

Counterterrorism

  • Shiri Krebs demonstrates the drawbacks of predictive technology in counterterrorism operations. She suggests that although AI is now seen as essential in countering violent extremism, historical examples suggest this may hinder safety and security. To prove this, the article delves into three specific issues that result from human-machine interaction. The article concludes by suggesting an array of policy recommendations regarding States’ use of AI and predictive technology by looking back at previous failures. She highlights the need for increased transparency in the human methodologies behind predictive technologies alongside the need to demonstrate how visuals and predictions affect risk assessments in order to improve the human-machine interaction in counterterrorism. The article further suggests the need for enhanced accountability over technological failures accompanying an obligation to clarify the limitations of these counterterrorism methods and to develop a responsibility framework for erroneous decisions by humans. (Shiri Krebs, GNET, 04.05.21)

Far-right violent extremism and terrorism

  • Intelbrief: Cat and Mouse Game in Canada as Proud Boys Chapter Claims to Disband: The Soufan Center’s latest IntelBrief concerns the recent disbandment of the Canadian Proud Boys in the aftermath of the Government of Canada’s designation as a terrorist group earlier this year. The Soufan Center suggests caution at the announcement of this dissolution as this is not unlike previous events. Citing the examples of the Islamist al-Muhajiroun alongside the far-right Feuerkrieg Division and National Action, there is a suggestion that the Canadian Proud Boys could seek to sidestep designation by forming splinter factions or rename themselves – mirroring the actions of the aforementioned groups. This is emphasised by the announcement of the creation of a new splinter group known as Canada First – with a clear homage to the British far-right group: Britain First. There is also concern noted over those who have radicalised further following the dissolution of the Canadian Proud Boys and joining more violent groups such as The Base or Atomwaffen Division. The article concludes with the need for an international coalition on far-right violent extremism in light of Canada’s unilateral decision to designate the Canadian Proud Boys, with the impact of this designation perhaps leading to some form of global consensus in the future. (The Soufan Center, 05.05.2021)

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