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Countering Exploitation of the Internet by Extremists

Rohit Mehrotra says:The menace of abuse of social media and other internet related communications by various extremists and terror groups for fostering their ideology and showcasing their exploits is on the rise.

Rohit Mehrotra writes:

The menace of abuse of social media and other internet related communications by various extremists and terror groups for fostering their ideology and showcasing their exploits is on the rise. Islamic State’s deft exploitation of online space for furthering their sinister designs continues unabated.  Though the efficacy of role played by the Internet on radicalization vis-a-vis its offline activities is yet to be established, it certainly is providing a ready platform for propaganda, luring youth for recruitment, raising of funds, cyber-attacks and  giving a fillip to the nefarious designs of terrorist groups.

social media

The surge in activities of the Islamic State encompassing territorial gains, influx of foreign mercenaries, extremist attacks and increase in propaganda through offline and online means needs to be contained on priority. The gross misuse of the freedom of expression and absence of requisite regulatory mechanisms especially on the Online Social Networks (OSN) needs to be addressed on priority. The problem gets further aggravated due to limited government control over the Internet and reluctance / apprehension of private sector players to police the cyber space. This has raised serious concerns over freedom of expression. As on date, the governments in conjunction with the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) resort to enhanced Internet Surveillance leading to removing contents, blocking accounts associated with terrorism to prevent glorifying or inciting acts of terrorism. This of course is not a permanent solution as mere content based filtering approach / blocking / deactivation of accounts will not serve the purpose. There is an urgent need to implement online counter terrorism measures addressing government, company and internet user’s interests and values. It is imperative that an online counter-terrorism strategy based on the liberal principles viz right to free speech, transparency and accountability is put in place to respond to this threat.  Towards this direction, policy initiatives and basic framework including regulatory mechanisms need to emanate from countries like the United States so that other democracies of the world grappling with this menace get a ready and viable solution. However, it is important that these counter terrorism measures do not impinge on the basic principles of liberal freedom.

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