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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