Violent Extremism - New Tracks or New Content?


In recent years, the understanding of violent extremism in Western countries has significantly changed its content, including such components as ideological justification among its characteristics. For example, the UK Government issued a Note on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism on the Internet in September 2021. Here is its content:

  1. We recognise the immense benefits the internet brings to society. However, we acknowledge the misuse of the internet by violent extremist and terrorist actors remains a significant threat to the security of G7 nations. We acknowledge the importance of governments working in partnership with industry and civil society to tackle violent extremist and terrorist use of the internet in a coordinated, inclusive way, whilst promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, building on the commitments set out in the G7 Biarritz Declaration from 2019 and previous G7 statements.
  2. We recognise the work of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) in enabling an enhanced, multi-stakeholder approach to tackling terrorism and violent extremism online, and welcome the achievements made by the Christchurch Call to Action since its adoption in May 2019. We also recognise the valuable work of the EU Internet Forum and Aqaba Process.
  3. We welcome the GIFCT’s transformation into an independent NGO. We stress the importance of expanding GIFCT membership to include a broader range of technology companies, including smaller platforms, video game platforms, and internet infrastructure providers, and recognise the important role of the GIFCT’s delivery partners to achieve this.
  4. We also support the GIFCT’s efforts to be a diverse, global organisation focussed on tackling violent extremist and terrorist content in all forms, and, to this end, note the need for a greater focus on tackling non-English language content.
  5. We note the importance of effective and coordinated crisis response mechanisms to minimise the spread of terrorist or violent extremist content online stemming from a real-world event, including live-streamed video, audio and images, and welcome work undertaken within the GIFCT and Christchurch Call to Action to date to achieve this. We encourage increased coordination between governments, industry and civil society to further strengthen and integrate crisis response mechanisms, such as the GIFCT Content Incident Protocol (CIP), the EU Crisis Protocol (EUCP) and the Christchurch Call to Action Crisis Response Protocol. In particular, we note the need for greater coordination in situations that do not currently meet the GIFCT threshold for action.
  6. We acknowledge the need to develop a robust, collective understanding of how COVID-19 has altered the ways in which violent extremists and terrorists misuse the Internet.
  7. We believe that it is important that industry addresses all forms of terrorist and violent extremist content in a robust way, including violent extremism and terrorism referred to by some governments as extreme right-wing terrorism, by some governments as far-right extremism and by others as a form of racially, ethnically or other ideologically motivated violent extremism or terrorism, which may incorporate a range of hateful, xenophobic, misogynistic, anti-government, anti-authority and other violent grievances that may lead to mobilisation of violence. We acknowledge the need to better define and address content of this type, whilst respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. We also acknowledge the enduring threat posed by ideologically-motivated violent extremism and terrorism, including by self-declared Islamist terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and their affiliates.
  8. We note the utility of government proscriptions of terrorist groups in enabling a strong response to violent extremist and terrorist content online. However, we recognise the challenges associated with an online threat picture that is borderless, largely anonymous, and is characterised to a greater extent by loose collections of individuals than it is by formal group structures, who may not have affiliations with proscribed or designated terrorist groups, and the implications of this for content moderation.
  9. We call on industry and governments to develop more innovative and consistent approaches to tackling all forms of violent extremist and terrorist content, including by addressing violent extremist and terrorist activity regardless of whether it was produced by, or linked to, an organisation with a formal terrorist designation, in a manner consistent with national and international law, including international human rights law. We call on industry to address content inciting terrorist or violent extremist acts, which contribute to radicalisation to violence and the perpetration of real-world violent acts, whilst respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. We also note the importance of industry and governments standing ready to respond quickly and innovatively to those seeking to exploit the situation in Afghanistan, including to radicalise, recruit and inspire people to terrorism online, while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  10. We note the importance of preventative measures both online and offline, and building long-term resilience to violent extremist and terrorist narratives by cultivating critical thinking skills, digital literacy, and online public safety awareness through education at all levels, including through partnerships with industry, civil society and academia. We also recognise the importance of hindering the spread of terrorist content by ensuring its quick removal.
  11. By working together to address the issues outlined in this Statement, we believe that we will create a safer internet environment for all internet users, maintaining our strong commitment to free, open and secure internet, which safeguards the free flow of information, and promotes and protects human rights and fundamental freedoms.