Progress on Hash-Sharing and our Partnership Structure

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 50,000 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.
  • We are pleased that Ask.fm, Cloudinary, Instagram, Justpaste.it, LinkedIn, Oath, and Snap have also joined this hash-sharing consortium, and we will work to add to new members throughout 2018.

Our 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 and relaunched in April 2017 at AccessNow's RightsCon in Brussels and at Chatham House in London. 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.

Activities in 2017

Tech Against Terrorism has pioneered a practical approach to building trust with the private sector and sharing emerging best-practice with tech companies. This is based on a strategy of outreach and engagement combined with providing practical and accessible advice for companies through in-person workshops and the delivery of online resources and tools.

In 2017, the GIFCT and Tech Against Terrorism convened high-level events with companies, academia, civil society, and governments in London, Brussels, Paris, Jakarta, Dublin, Beirut, New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco. These workshops allowed the initiative to design a program of knowledge-sharing that led to the launch of the Knowledge Sharing Platform at a special meeting of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee in New York in Nov 2017.

The Knowledge Sharing Platform provides companies with practical resources to inform best practice Terms of Service (or Community Guidelines), content moderation, transparency reporting, terrorist sanctions lists, and much else besides.

In addition, Tech Against Terrorism has designed Assessment Tools to help tech companies evaluate the risks they face and provide guidance on practical ways for them to build resilience against terrorist exploitation. Underpinning this approach is the Tech Against Terrorism Pledge which is based principles enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international agreements designed to reinforce the importance of fundamental human rights such as the freedom of expression. For companies that become a Member of Tech Against Terrorism, the initiative awards a Trustmark to help tech platforms demonstrate their commitment to tackling terrorist exploitation of the internet whilst respecting human rights.

For more information about outreach and knowledge-sharing activities, please visit:

www.TechAgainstTerrorism.org

More information about our research efforts coming soon!