The threat to UK citizens from terrorist acts was tragically underlined in 2017 with deadly attacks in London and the bombing of a pop concert at Manchester Arena. Many of the battles to prevent these types of atrocities have to take place online, and attempting to make the internet a terror-free zone can be a contentious issue. We want to feel safe, but what if that means restricting freedoms and infringing on rights?
This policy is about major internet companies helping civil society organisations (meaning everything other than government or businesses) to promote alternative and counter-narratives which push against online terrorist propaganda and support the UK’s counter terrorism strategy (CONTEST).
Soon after the June 2017 election, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) was launched, bringing together some of the major tech and internet giants with the stated aim of making their “consumer services hostile to terrorists”. One element of the forum’s work is a “counterspeech” initiative to “further empower and train civil society organisations”, which is what the manifesto calls for.
The government can claim to have had a hand in the establishment of this group: a Twitter policy statement said GIFCT built on initiatives including “discussions with the UK government”, so that’s a persuasive argument for a positive verdict here.
This is also only a pledge for the government to “continue” doing something, which means unless it is explicitly dropped from their plans, we give them the benefit of the doubt. GIFCT is evidence of an ongoing effort to meet the objective, so we’re rating this policy as ‘done’.
Want to read more?
- Investigatory Powers Act 2016 – Gov.uk
- Countering terrorism – Liberty
- Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018 – Gov.uk
- Tracking terrorists online might invade your privacy – BBC Future
- Press release – Securing the future: counter-terrorism strategy published – Gov.uk
- About Tech Against Terrorism – Tech Against Terrorism
- The vision of the GIFCT is to prevent terrorists from exploiting our platforms – GIFCT