Partnerships For Joint Tech Innovation
In December 2016, the founding member companies of the GIFCT (Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube), committed to creating a shared industry database of "hashes" — unique digital "fingerprints" — for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos that we have removed from our services. By sharing these hashes with one another, we can identify potential terrorist images and videos on our respective hosted consumer platforms. This collaboration is resulting in increased efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online.
As part of the GIFCT, the founding companies committed to refine and improve the shared industry hash database, and we have made important progress over the past year:
- The database now contains more than 100,000 hashes. It allows member companies to use those hashes to identify and remove matching content – videos and images – that violate our respective policies or, in some cases, block terrorist content before it is even posted.
- The Hash Sharing Consortium includes Ask.fm, Cloudinary, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Justpaste.it, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Oath, Reddit, Snap, Twitter and Yellow. We will work to add to new members throughout the upcoming year.
Partnership with Tech Against Terrorism
Knowledge sharing is one of the key areas of focus for the GIFCT. Although our companies have been sharing best practices around counterterrorism for several years, in recent months the GIFCT has provided a more formal structure to accelerate and strengthen this work, in particular focusing on knowledge sharing with smaller tech companies. One of the GIFCT's key partners in enhancing our work in this area is Tech Against Terrorism.
Tech Against Terrorism is a public-private partnership which was originally launched by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED) in 2016. The first of its kind, this initiative is recognised by the United Nations Security Council as an exemplar in working with technology companies to tackle the terrorist exploitation of the internet whilst respecting human rights. In particular, Tech Against Terrorism works with UN Member States, global technology companies, civil society, and academia to:
- Provide practical resources and guidance whilst promoting knowledge-sharing within the tech industry
- Offer a think tank environment and encourage peer learning and support
- Develop links between the tech sector, government, civil society, and academia regarding counter-terrorism
- Promote excellence in understanding how terrorists exploit internet services for strategic, operational, and tactical purposes
The work of Tech Against Terrorism has been recognised by UN Security Council Resolutions as well as the “Comprehensive International Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives” that calls for improved public-private co-operation regarding tackling terrorist exploitation of the internet.
One of Tech Against Terrorism's main areas of focus is on supporting smaller tech platforms to tackle terrorist exploitation of their services whilst respecting human rights. The displacement of terrorist activity from larger platforms has accelerated the trend towards exploitation of the smaller platforms. At the same time, often the smaller tech platforms are particularly vulnerable because they do not necessarily have the resources or know-how tackle this alone. Furthermore, the ease of replication of many technologies such as content-pasting means that there is an ever-increasing number of platforms for terrorists to target. In some cases, terrorists have also developed their own technologies. Those of particular concern include social media, file-sharing, link-shortening, content storage, blockchain, video-sharing, content-pasting, archiving, blogging, fintech, e-commerce, encrypted messaging, VPNs, gaming, and email services.
Partnership with The Global Research Network on Terrorism and Technology
GIFCT is supporting a Global Research Network on Terrorism and Technology aimed at developing research and providing policy recommendations around the prevention of terrorist exploitation of technology. The research conducted by this network will seek to better understand radicalisation, recruitment and the myriad of ways terrorist entities use the digital space.
The network is led by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in the UK and brings together partners from around the world, including the Brookings Institution (US), theInternational Centre for Counter-Terrorism (Netherlands), Swansea University (UK), the Observer Research Foundation (India), the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (Israel), the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (Indonesia) and Policy Center for the New South, formerly OCP Policy Center (Morocco).
The network will conduct research into a range of geopolitical contexts and deliver multiple mini-projects focusing on five pillars:
1. Consumers: This theme is concerned with how and why consumers engage with terrorist and extremist content on hosted platforms in a range of geopolitical contexts.
2. Content and Discourse: This theme will study how terrorist material is presented and subsequently consumed, looking not only at recruitment and radicalisation but also at the impact of such content on the general public and adversaries as well as on the morale or loyalty of followers.
3. Legislation, Regulation and Ethics: This theme will focus on the opportunities for and the practicalities of legislation around online terrorism, as well as associated legal and ethical considerations, particularly concerning the balance between ensuring practical and effective legislation whilst at the same respecting fundamental human rights.
4. Public-Private Partnerships: This theme will explore ways in which public-private partnerships can be more effective and collaborative and seek to facilitate an improved relationship across the full spectrum of prevention and disruption activities.
5. Capabilities: This theme will focus on current and future tools and techniques that could be used to prevent and disrupt the spread of terrorism and violent extremism, including the operational effectiveness of new and existing methods.
Paper 1: The Network’s first paper, outlines how internet regulators can learn lessons from experiences in countering terrorist financing to tackle terrorism content online.
More information about our research efforts coming soon!