Reader’s Digest – 21 May 2021

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

Webinar Alert

  • Don’t miss our upcoming TAT and GIFCT E-Learning Webinar : “The Nuts and Bolts of Counter Narratives: What works and why?” This webinar will be held on Thursday, 27 May, at 5pm BST. You can register here.

  • Sara Zeiger, Program Manager Research and Analysis, Hedayah
  • Munir Zamir, PhD Candidate at the University of South Wales
  • Tarek Elgawhary, Founder, Making Sense of Islam; CEO, Coexist Research International
  • Ross Frenett, Founder & CEO, Moonshot CVE
  • Moderators: Erin Saltman, Director of Programming, GIFCT; Anne Craanen, Research Analyst, Tech Against Terrorism

Tech Against Terrorism Updates

  • We published a blogpost detailing the support we provide to smaller tech platforms via our Mentorship programme, and the key results it has yielded so far.  Since 2018, Tech Against Terrorism has mentored 25 tech companies to help them tackle terrorist use of their platforms whilst respecting human rights, and to support with increased meaningful transparency from the sector. You can read more on this, as well as how to join our membership programme, here.
  • We will highlight these results and the Mentorship and Membership programmes on our Twitter and Linkedin accounts for the following weeks. Keep an eye out!
    Interest in joining the Tech Against Terrorism Mentorship? Reach out at [email protected]

Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP) Updates

  • Our Director, Adam Hadley, and Research Analyst, Anne Craanen, will be presenting the TCAP at GNET first annual conference, hosted by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) next week. Don’t forget to register here.
  • Next week marks the 6-month anniversary of TCAP sending alerts to tech companies when we find terrorist content on their platforms. We will be announcing upcoming events to mark this occasion through our Twitter account @TCAPAlerts, and publish our TCAP statistics detailing our metrics for the first 6 months. Stay tuned! 

Top Stories

  • Facebook released its latest transparency report, detailing the platform’s community standards enforcement for the first quarter of 2021, alongside its bi-annual transparency report on law enforcement and government requests for the second half of 2020.
  • The Internet Society published an open letter to Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to express concerns over the upcoming Bill C-10 which amends the country’s Broadcasting Act in Bill C-10, as well as to issue caution over the upcoming online harms regulation.
  • Mozilla published a position paper on the EU Digital Services Act (DSA) which highlights their recommendations for the DSA, including systematic transparency, a risk-based approach to content responsibility, as well as auditing and oversight.

    In January 2021, we published our response to the EU Digital Services Act, which you can read here.

Far-right Violent Extremism and Terrorism

  • All You Need to Know About the UK Proscribing the Neo-Nazi Group Atomwaffen Division: Hayley Evans explains the UK’s recent decision to proscribe the accelerationist, neo-Nazi group Attomwaffen Division (AWD) – and its alias, National Socialist Order – as a terrorist organisation. The move is presented as a push by the UK for international solidarity on the threat of far-right terrorism, and to provide the necessary legislative tools to combat online propaganda. Evans demonstrates the importance of proscription over the designation of AWD, as this allows for members of the organisation to be subjected to asset freezing and seizure, alongside disruptive activity, under the 2000 Terrorism Act. The decision to proscribe followed increased awareness of far-right violent extremist activity in the West, and the UK government believes that AWD provides a specific enough threat to the UK to warrant proscription. However, Evans suggests that the current paradigm on immediate physical threats is perhaps no longer suitable as the terrorism threat has shifted more to the online space. (Evans, Lawfare Blog 17.05.2021)
  • FBI, DHS Cite ‘Kill Count’ Gamification as Key Threat Inspiring Future Domestic Terrorism: Bridget Johnson tackles the issue of ‘gamification’ and likening attacks to video games, and how this will continue to inspire future terrorist attacks according to the US Department of Homeland Security. With gamification, Johnson reports that violent extremists are seeking to accomplish ‘achievements’ or ‘high scores’ through large kill counts. The increasingly competitive nature of far-right violent extremism and terrorism in the US is shown to demonstrate the threat of future attackers mobilising more quickly, or attempting more lethal and sophisticated attacks.  Would-be terrorists are now seeking to topple each other’s ‘high scores’ by perpetrating attacks in more brutal, public, and innovative ways. Johnson concludes by reviewing the National Defense Authorisation Act report and the DHS’s continued efforts to mitigate threats from violent far-right extremists, and the commitment to expand the ability to collect material and information from these individuals. (Johnson, Department of Homeland Security Today, 18.05.2021)

    If you would like to learn more on ‘gamification’ of terrorism, make sure to check out our podcast on gamification here.

For any questions, please get in touch via:
[email protected]