Preliminary Insights into the Private Sector’s Response To Terrorist Use of the Internet and ICT

Outcome of Zurich Workshop available here.

Since the late 1990s, and as global connectivity has increased and social networking sites have proliferated in multiple languages, certain groups have become more sophisticated in their use of the internet and ICT for terrorist purposes. Indeed, concerns regarding terrorist use of the internet has increased significantly over the past few years, due in large part to the adeptness of terrorist groups to use the internet and ICT to communicate, groom and recruit foreign fighters and supporters, spread propaganda about their objectives, share knowledge key to their operations, and finance their activities. These developments have important implications for the private sector as do emerging measures aimed at preventing the sale and distribution to, and use of IT products and services by listed terrorist groups.

This reality has led to greater engagement of the private sector – notably technology and social media companies – in efforts to respond to terrorist use of the internet and ICT, including the creation of public-private partnerships specifically aimed at dealing with the issue, and the emergence of new (and oft-contested) practices or norms of self-regulation by companies, notably in the area of content management and counter narratives.

In April 2016, the ICT4Peace Foundation and the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED) launched a joint project on Private sector Engagement in Responding to Terrorist Use of the Internet and ICT. The project aims to To this end, the events will serve to consult with companies and other stakeholders on:

  • Their approaches to responding to terrorist use of their products and services (use of ICT for financing, recruitment and strategic communications/ propaganda etc).
  • Emerging practices, norms, principles in responding to terrorist use of the internet and ICT, as well as emerging legislation.
  • Trends in public-private partnerships established to respond to terrorist use of ICT.
  • Industry’s role in implementing ICT/internet-related measures stemming from UN Security Council ISIL and AQ sanctions.
  • Emerging and future threats relating to terrorist use of the internet and IT.
  • The establishment of a curated on-line global collaboration forum which would be aimed at sharing and regularly up-dating norms, principles and practices relating to industry’s response to terrorist use of ICT; discussing existing and emerging challenges; and engaging with states and other actors.

As a first step, ICT4Peace and CTED is organising a number of workshops on these issues, the first of which was held in Zurich, Switzerland in August 2016, hosted at ETH. It was followed by another in Silicon Valley in the US on 12 September, hosted by Microsoft and another which will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 03 November, hosted by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies. We invite you to read the summary report from the Zurich workshop (posted here) and welcome any comments/ suggestions you might have as we move towards drafting a preliminary report which will be presented to the UN Security Council’s Counter Terrorism Committee, and as we finalise the details of Phase II of the project.

The report of the Zurich workshop can be found here.

For further information on the project, please contact:

Project Team:

Dr. Camino Kavanagh, Project Director
Adam Hadley, Researcher
Sophia Khan, Researcher
Diana Ruiz, Researcher

Marc Porret, Legal Advisor, CTED
Matteo Sestito, Associate Political Officer, CTED
Cecilia Naddeo, Human Rights Officer, CTED

New Media Course: Tools & Techniques for Civilian Crisis Management


The challenge
for journalists and experts working in civilian crisis management is finding a way to filter the information and determine what is relevant with the overload of information, and further, to communicate that effectively to the right people in an efficient manner.

This course
introduces participants to a variety of new and social media tools, platforms and apps used in the collection, presentation, verification and dissemination of information.

Course modules will cover
new media in crises, information management in a crisis, OS-INT and big data, data visualisation, tools for collaboration, introduction to new cartographies and mapping tools, source verification over social media, security, safety and privacy plus data protection.

Delivered successfully and to wide acclaim by participants since 2013 the course will take place in Stans, in central Switzerland, from 30 January – 3 February 2017. For details of 2016’s course and feedback, click here.

have the chance to do hands-on exercises using these tools through interactive activities and group work, while also learning about cyber-security to protect information, communications and sources.

To apply for the course please send a motivation letter and a CV that describes your background and the benefit the course would add to your professional expertise.

The application letter should not exceed 1 A4 page and has to be in English, which is the course language.

Please send applications to:

Questions on course & logistics to Anna Hofmann:

The course fee amounts to 2000.00 Swiss Francs, covering the costs for tuition and full board accommodation. Travel costs and insurance have to be covered by the participants.

Application ends Friday 2 December 2016.

Accepted participants will be informed by Friday 16 December 2016.

ICT4Peace on Cybersecurity Capacity Building at the UN General Assembly First Committee

ICT4Peace was invited on 5 October 2016 to make a presentation on cybersecurity capacity building at a side event of UN General Assembly First Committee. This Committee deals with disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community and seeks out solutions to the challenges in the international security regime. The presentation by ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher can be found here.

The link to the post of the United Nations can be found here.

The UN, Cyberspace and International Peace & Security

Moderator Kerstin Vignard who leads UNIDIR’s work on cyber issues

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) held a side event on cyberspace and international peace and security on October 5, 2016 during 71st Session of the General Assembly First Committee. Three expert presenters discussed the important details of cybersecurity in the modern world and how Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) are increasingly influential on economic, scientific, social, and political developments. They were: Mr. Karsten Geier, the chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security; Camino Kavanagh, a senior advisor and consultant on cyber issues; and Daniel Stauffacher, the founder and president of the ICT4Peace Foundation. Kerstin Vignard, who leads UNIDIR’s work on cyber issues.

Karsten Geier started the presentation by explaining the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security. Building on four previous GGEs which began in 2004, this year’s group is focusing on existing and potential threats to international security in the use of ICTs. Their analysis and discussions focus on international law, further expansion and clarification of norms as well as expectations concerning responsible state behavior in cyberspace.


The second expert, Camino Kavanagh, focused on the linkages between the work in the First Committee and development, human rights, and counter-terrorism. She explained that a divide exists between development and internet governance in relation to international security. Human rights concerns have emerged from international cyber security concerns. Pointing out that the potential of misuse of cyberspace and noting that ease with which terrorist groups have been able to propagate, radicalize and recruit supporters, raise funds, and incite hatred and violence, Ms. Kavanagh remarked that some states have engaged in mass surveillance and censorship. Controlling the cyber sphere can undoubtedly infringe on internet users’ freedom of speech and expression. . For its part, it was recognized that the United Nations System is working to solve these three issues by shaping and implementation norms, confidence, and capacity building measures.

The last expert to speak was the founder and president of the ICT for Peace Foundation, Daniel Stauffacher. He provided an overview of the different international organizations that are working on cybersecurity issues, including the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (CFCE), the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC), the Organization of American States, and the African Union Commission. Confidence building, international assistance, and capacity building were stressed as the main issues to be discussed and decided upon.

Drafted by Kathryn Smart

ICT4Peace at Munich Security Conference: Cybersecurity must be part of the Global Development Debate


ICT4Peace was invited to participate in Munich Security Conference’s (MSC) Cybersecurity Summit Silicon Valley 2016 on 19 and 20 September 2016. When discussing the issue of capacity building in Cybersecurity, ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher, speaking from the floor, reiterated the importance of capacity building to build a safer global cyberspace and especially the need to also include the developing and emerging economies in the debate at the UN and elsewhere, on norms, rules and principles of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace and the promotion of confidence building measures (CBMs) to prevent an escalation of cyber-attacks. He expressed his concern, that despite numerous efforts, cybersecurity capacity building has still not sufficiently entered the international development cooperation debate, neither in the context of the UN SDGs, nor e.g. in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OCDE in Paris.

Daniel Stauffacher informed the audience that ICT4Peace has been carrying out Workshop Courses since 2014 on Cybersecurity Policy and Diplomacy for technical and diplomatic personnel in cooperation with the Organisation of American States (OAS), African Union (AU), ASEAN, OSCE, East African Countries, GCSP, CMLV Countries. But he also stressed that more resources need to be invested in this important sector.


ICCM 2016, Manila, Philippines: Video message from ICT4Peace Foundation


The International Conference of Crisis Mappers (ICCM) is the leading humanitarian technology event of the year, bringing together the most important humanitarian, human rights, development and media organizations with the world’s best technology companies, software developers and academics. As thus one of the few neutral spaces where such important conversations can take place, the annual ICCM conference brings together a wide range of diverse actors for important conversations that lead to concrete new projects and deliverables across a variety of diverse domains. As a community of practice, the ICCM thus helps facilitate new projects and catalyzes innovation in the area of humanitarian technology.

This year’s conference is being hosted in Manila, Philippines September 28-30, 2016 with field visits from October 1-7. The ICT4Peace Foundation co-curated and funded one of the best attended ICCM conferences in Geneva, five years ago – the first time it was brought to and held in Europe. In addition, through the support for ICCM Fellows, funding for logistics, technical input, curation and the moderation of panels, the Foundation has contributed to the success of the conference in Boston (2010), Washington (2012), Nairobi (2013) and New York (2014).

Due to unavoidable circumstances, Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor at the Foundation, who was slated to MC the conference in Manila, could not travel to the Philippines. On behalf of the Foundation, a short video message from Sanjana was played at the conference.

International Governance for Peace and Security in Cyberspace

ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was invited to give a lecture on “International Governance for Peace and Security in Cyberspace” at the Summer School of the Swiss Study Foundation organised in collaboration with Prof. Michael Ambühl, Chair of Negotiation and Conflict Management, ETH Zurich, and former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, on 6. September 2016 at the Centro in Magliaso, Switzerland. Daniel Stauffacher’s presentation can be found here.

This Summer School introduced core concepts of modern State structures (such as separation of powers, administrative transparency, accountability and participation) and international relations. It discussed the manifold challenges of today’s policy makers who are required to tackle problems in an ever more interdisciplinary way. In addition to this multi-dimensional nature, policies have also to be coordinated on the international stage. A particular emphasis was placed on policy questions concerning modern technologies in the IT (e.g. security, cyber warfare), health (e.g. data collection, genetic engineering) and energy sector (e.g. security of supply, climate impact). Current global challenges were highlighted under the perspective of policy. To complement the course program, an introduction to negotiation theories, negotiation engineering and decision making was given, and a workshop with simulation of international negotiations was carried out.

Build Peace 2016: Reflections


The ICT4Peace Foundation was privileged to work with and support Build Up in the organisation of Build Peace 2016 in Zurich, from 9 – 11 September 2016. Several members of the Foundation were advisors to or part of the team behind Build Peace this year.

Build Peace is the premier annual gathering of individuals and organisations interested in the use of technology for peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Even though the venue and environs were very different to last year’s conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, the conversations were deep and meaningful across the board, and especially on the second day. The Foundation is particularly glad to see the mainstreaming of ethics and moreover, the arts and culture programme into the heart of BuildPeace. As we noted on Twitter,


The selection of speakers and the conference format worked very well. Whereas so many others working around Peace Tech focus on the technology, Build Peace presentations, keynotes and discussions focussed on intent, context, ethics and sustainability – issues that are still worrying alien to so many working in this domain. A lot the Foundation encountered over the two days and spoke with were also extremely appreciative of the ‘unconference’ at the end, noting that this was the first or one of the very few conferences they had attended which gave everyone a voice. 

With Build Peace 2016 anchored to transformation, all the sessions probed into issues central to the use of technology in peace. On the second day, Prof. Dirk Helbing from ETH, and a leading champion of Build Peace, gave a presentation that was extremely well received on a new paradigm for peace. The short talks were well curated, offering perspectives from around the world and as far afield as South-East Asia around the use of technology – in its broadest sense – to build peace at community, regional and national levels. The workshops, often in parallel, were hard to choose between and offered deeper dives into specific regional contexts, issues, topics or technologies.

Our Twitter feed (@ictpeace) and the hashtag #buildpeace, #ict4peace or #peacetech over the last couple of days is full of insights, observations, comments and discussions around the conference and the issues it raised. We have archived every public single tweet and retweet with these hashtags and can freely make this content available to interested researchers and data scientists. Please contact sanjanahattotuwa [at] ict4peace [dot] org with your request and a brief outline of why you want the data.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, a Special Advisor at the Foundation and Advisor to Build Peace, gave some well-received introductory remarks on Day 1 on the conference, the slidedeck of which is available online.

Protection Information Management Working Meeting: September 2016

The ICT4Peace Foundation has for many years worked with the UN and ICRC to strengthen the awareness and understanding of, need for as well as the meaningful implementation of standards, frameworks and technologies to protect the information of vulnerable communities in violent contexts, as well as refugees and internally displaced persons.

In August 2012, Simone Eymann on behalf of the ICT4Peace Foundation participated in a one-day consultation, co-organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and InterAction, on “Protection in violent situations: standards for managing sensitive information“.

Having participated remotely in the first Protection Information Management (PIM) meeting held in May 2015, and subsequently given input to working documents that captured the discussions at the meeting, ICT4Peace Foundation’s Sanjana Hattotuwa was invited by UNHCR and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) to attend the second PIM meeting, held in Geneva from 2 – 4 December 2015.

Sanjana was again invited to participate in the Protection Information Management Working Meeting held in the UN City in Copenhagen in September 2016, co-hosted and organised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

The intensive, two and a half day working meeting was anchored to,

  • Articulate the PIM Process: Articulate and understand linkages between the PIM Process and protection analysis, strategy and response
  • Use of and refinement of the PIM Matrix: Further refine the cover page and data outputs for PIM categories and gather feedback & lessons learned in using the PIM Matrix
  • PIM Principles in Action and the PIM Process: Share and refine the unpacking and operationalization of the PIM Principles and their linkages to the individual steps of the PIM process
  • Essential Data: Explore and articulate the characteristics of data which are critical for an informed protection response
  • PIM Capacity Building and Learning: Stocktaking of what has been done, developed, and is available in terms of protection information management learning and briefing materials
  • Review and agree on ‘Next Steps’
  • Modalities for collaborating on PIM

Though a full report from the workshop is pending at the time of writing, as one preliminary outcome endorsed by the participants, UNHCR and DRC, the Foundation agreed to host, and help create and implement a website for the PIM process, which would contain all the relevant documentation, standards, reports as well as links to on-going discussions and relevant materials. Sanjana, on behalf of the Foundation, was also tasked with helping lead a data-sharing working group around PIM.

ICT4Peace on Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) at the 2016 Annual Conference of Swiss Ambassadors in Geneva and at ETH in Zurich

ICT4Peace is proud to have been invited on 23 August 2016 by the 2016 Annual Conference of Swiss Ambassadors and foreign representations at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to participate in the Workshop on “Preventing Violent Extremism – a Swiss and Geneva specialty”. The Panel, which was chaired by Mr. Stefan Husy, Ambassador-at-Large for International Counter-Terrorism and highlighted three spheres of PVE action:

  1. Engaging communities, empowering youth and women
  2. Dialogue and conflict prevention
  3. Strategic communications, internet and social media

ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was presenting inter alia on topic three and the work of ICT4Peace on PVE in cooperation with the UN Security Council CTC/CTED. His presentation can be found here.

In this context, on 25 August 2016, ICT4Peace and UN CTED organised at ETH Zurich the first of three workshops with 48 participants on Private sector engagement in prevention of the use of ICT and the internet to promote violent extremism. This joint ICT4Peace-UN CTED project was formally launched on request by the United Nations on 7 April at the United Nations in Geneva.

The next workshops will be held in Silicon Valley on 11 and 12 September 2016  and in Malaysia on 2 and 3 November 2016.UNCTED/ICT4Peace will report on the outcome of this process to the UN Security Council CTC on 30 November and 1 December 2016.  

In preparation of this process, ICT4Peace was invited on 16 December 2015 by the United Nations in New York to moderate a technical panel discussion on Collaboration between the Public and Private Sector to prevent violent extremism, promote safety and counter messaging on the Internet, while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In parallel processes, ICT4Peace has been participating in a study led by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Geneva Academy on countering violent extremism and terrorism online, freedom of expression and the right to privacy, and conducting training activities countering violent extremism in Myanmar.

ICT4Peace on Peace and Security in the cyberspace at Science for Peace Conference, Malaysia


ICT4Peace was invited by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, to make a presentation on Peace and Security in the cyberspace at the International Conference on Science for Peace in Kuala Lumpur on 15 and 16 August 2016. Daniel Stauffacher’s Presentation can be found here.

The Conference was opened by by His Royal Highness Sultan Nasrin Muizzuddin Shah, Sultan of Perak. His Keynote Address on the topic of Science for Peace can be found here.

The program of the conference can be found here.