News: Letter from Executive Director, Nicholas Rasmussen

News: Letter from Executive Director, Nicholas Rasmussen
15 December 2021 GIFCT
In Letter, News

This letter is featured in GIFCT’s 2021 Annual Report.

Dear GIFCT Members, Colleagues, Partners and Stakeholders,

I am enormously pleased and proud to share with you this first ever Annual Report of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT).  2021 was a milestone year for GIFCT as it marked the first full year for the organization in its new form as an independent entity with a full-time professional staff. Thank you to all who have participated in, collaborated on, and contributed to our work during this year.

2021 has been a year of significant progress for GIFCT, but the dynamic terrorism and violent extremism landscape that surrounds us is a daily reminder that much more work lies ahead. The important growth that we have made during 2021 can be counted in both organizational and substantive terms:

  • We hired a professional staff of six, with presence in London, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. We remain committed to expanding staff capacity as we work to become an even more global, inclusive, and diverse organization.
  • We achieved status as a registered 501(c)(3) organization under U.S. law and have successfully completed our first tax filing and audit process.
  • We commissioned an independent and forward-looking human rights impact assessment (HRIA) of GIFCT. Our hope was that this report would serve as a catalyst for GIFCT’s organizational development as a newly independent entity, informing our work from the outset and allowing us to take early and decisive action to position human rights at the center of our strategic planning and programmatic activities.
  • We delivered on our commitment in our first year to governing GIFCT’s hash-sharing database. This effort represented an important first step for GIFCT as we seek to develop effective approaches to managing the “gray space” challenges that sit at the nexus of terrorism and technology.
  • We brought the first year of GIFCT Working Group activity to a successful conclusion, with concrete output resulting from each of these Working Groups. More importantly, we refreshed the substantive agenda and membership for Working Group activity going forward into 2022, which resulted in a wider, more diverse set of expert stakeholders joining that important effort.
  • We grew GIFCT’s membership significantly, with the organization now including 18 companies, twice the number that were part of GIFCT at the time it began the transition to independent status at the end of 2019. We are delighted to welcome Zoom as our most recent GIFCT member, and we look forward during 2022 to welcoming even more new platforms and companies to GIFCT.

The next three years promise to be even more successful as we seek to expand both our reach and our impact with an ambitious set of strategic objectives focused on concrete progress and output:

  1. GIFCT will serve as the key convener, facilitator, and driver to bring together leaders from all stakeholding sectors to discuss the most important and complex issues at the intersection of terrorism and technology. We will demonstrate with concrete output that multistakeholderism can solve real-world problems and deliver genuine progress. We will continue to engage in this important work with human rights concerns and considerations embedded in our processes and our approach.
  2. GIFCT will grow its membership even further, looking to bring a diverse set of new companies into the sector-wide effort to address online terrorism and violent extremism. The evolving threat landscape will guide our efforts to engage with an even more global array of such companies.
  3. GIFCT will continue to provide critical support for efforts to build the collective capacity and capability of industry to address terrorism and violent extremism. We will do that by offering cross-platform technology solutions, enhanced information sharing, and practical research to support the work of GIFCT members.

A key part of GIFCT’s organizational progress during 2022 will be the implementation of a membership tiering structure that will pave the way for companies beyond the founding members to more directly participate in, and to contribute resources to support, GIFCT’s work. Broadening our base of support aligns with recommendations shared in the human rights impact assessment. The critically important partnerships that GIFCT maintains with Tech Against Terrorism to support our membership process and with the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) to drive practical academic research will continue to be essential to our success in 2022. I am proud of our continued association with the expert teams at both Tech Against Terrorism and GNET and look forward to many years of productive work together.

As we enter 2022, I am more encouraged and excited than ever at the promise and the potential of GIFCT. Our team looks forward to working closely with each of you in the multi-stakeholder effort to one day achieve our ultimate vision of rendering terrorists and violent extremists ineffective in the online environment.


Nicholas J. Rasmussen

Read the GIFCT 2021 Annual Report