Reader’s Digest – 18 June 2021

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


Webinar Alert

  • Our next TAT & GIFCT E-learning Webinar Series, “APAC in Focus: Regional Responses to Terrorist and Violent Extremist Activity Online”, will take place on Thursday, 24 June, 3 pm BST. Make sure to register here.

Agenda:

  • Maya Mirchandani, Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, and Assistant Professor of  Broadcast, Journalism  and  Media  Studies  at  Ashoka University
     
  • Shashi Jayakumar, Head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
     
  • Nawab Osman, Head of Counter-Terrorism and Dangerous Organizations, APAC at Facebook
     
  • Moderators:  Deeba Shadnia, OSINT Analyst, Tech Against Terrorism; and Nayanka Paquete Perdigão, Programme Associate, GIFCT

Tech Against Terrorism Updates

  • Throughout 2020, we worked to consolidate our Mentorship & Membership programmes for tech companies, focusing on capacity building and raising industry standards. You can read more about the changes brought to our support programmes, and how we plan to continue on consolidating this support for tech platform in our latest blog: Tech Against Terrorism Mentorship & Membership | Looking forward.  
  • This week we published our response to the EU’s terrorist content online regulation, which includes recommendations for the EU on supporting smaller tech platforms as well as on ensuring rule of law and freedom of expression when implementing the regulation. We argue that the EU now needs to provide clarity on support mechanism for small platfors, legal certainty, and safeguards against abuse of the regulation. Read our response here.  
  • 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. The KSP is a “one stop shop” for companies to access practical resources to support their counterterrorism and transparency efforts. It is a free platform which contains research and guidelines on topics including: policies and content standards, terrorist & violent extremist use of the internet, proscribed groups, online regulation, and transparency reporting. Stay tuned for further announcements about the launch date! 

Terrorist Content Analytics Platform (TCAP)

  • Last week (07.06.21-13.06.21) the TCAP identified and verified 134 URLs containing terrorist content, sent 87 alerts to 20 tech companies. 76% of this content is now offline.
     
  • The TCAP was mentioned in the Digital Lockers Human Rights Report which discusses ‘Voluntary Partnership Models’ in archiving media evidence of ‘Atrocity Crimes’. The report was published by UC Berkeley, you can access it here.

Top Stories


Tech Policy

  • Inside Nigeria’s Decision to Ban Twitter: Abubakar Idris and Yinka Adegoke investigate the recent decision by the Nigerian government to indefinitely suspend Twitter in the country, after a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari was deleted due to “abusive behaviour”. The Minister for Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has sought to draft new rules for social media platforms, including the requirement of a locally based team and a license in order to operate in Nigeria. Idris and Adegoke’s consensus is that “the government would like more say in how Twitter operates” in Nigeria. The authors argue that this may come in the form of a “local presence to grasp local context”, especially after Twitter announced the opening of its first Africa office in Ghana. Unless Twitter backs down and allows this request, the authors note that it appears the Nigerian government is prepared to move to another platform, as a recent “Government of Nigeria” account was created on Koo – an Indian social media app marketing itself as an alternative to Twitter. (Idris and Adegoke, Rest of World, 11.06.2021)
     
  • IntelBrief: The European Union Moves to Fight Terrorist Content Online: The Soufan Centre’s recent IntelBrief discusses the EU Regulation on Preventing the Dissemination of Terrorism Online within the context of free speech protection in the United States. They argue that the EU directive may come into conflict with free speech protections in the United States where many of the “most popular social media companies” originated. For instance, the Brief explains that the law applies to various aspects of terrorist use of the internet, including the “glorification of terrorism”, which cannot be prosecuted in the US. The Centre predicts “significant tension between the EU regulation and US free speech standards”. The Brief argues that this could even lead to a situation where US hosting services have to “pick their poison” by have to choose between either US protected free speech or the new EU legislation despite US content not being covered under the jurisdiction of the new regulation. The article ends by forecasting that the implementation of the EU directive will “result in future legal, financial and law enforcement challenges” as it conflicts with US free speech values. (The Soufan Centre, IntelBrief, 15.06.2021)

    We published our response to the EU Terrorist Content Online Regulation this week, and had previously raised our concerns with the regulation, in particular regarding the lack of consideration for smaller platforms, in an article for VoxPol.
     
  • Jihadist Groups Exploiting the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Mohammed Sinan Siyech and Suraj Ganesan consider how violent Islamist terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, reacted to the latest violence between Israelis and Palestinians in May 2021, and its possible ramifications elsewhere. The authors found through monitoring of official al-Qaeda’ and IS’ media channels that both groups have attempted to tie the narrative of crisis in Palestine to the crises of the global Muslim community (or Ummah). Siyech and Ganesan also argue that al-Qaeda supporter channels mirrored the narratives of the official media; whereas IS supporter channels have deviated from official narratives, instead choosing to focus on “inciting hate and harm on alleged oppressors”. In conclusion, the authors consider the impact these media narratives could have further afield, and underline concerns the recent violence being exploited for recruitment in South and Southeast Asia. (Siyech and Ganesan, Middle East Institute, 15.06.2021)

    This article is part of a larger series that explores the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) to Asia.

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