UN Report Identifies the Internet as a Major Tool of Terrorists and Discusses Counterterrorism Strategies

Computer Monitor

Released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes discusses the means by which terrorists are using the internet to their advantage, and what member states can do to mitigate these effects. Created in collaboration with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), the report identifies six major categories in which terrorists use the internet as a tool: propaganda, financing, training, planning, execution, and cyber attacks. Because of the nature of the internet, terrorists are often able to communicate quickly and anonymously, without being limited by traditional borders and criminal law. News sources such as CNET are also discussing the report, focusing on the implication of social media sites and the increasing importance of data retention.

From the standpoint of counterterrorism strategy, the internet provides a high-quality opportunity for intelligence gathering and analysis in general, and especially the gathering of information intended for use as evidence in prosecution of terrorist acts. The report also discusses the international legal framework (or lack thereof) for counterterrorism strategy as well as the role of rule of law and respect for human rights (protection of the freedom of expression). This topic is an extension of the existing United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy which recognizes that “effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals, but complementary and mutually reinforcing.”

Other topics in the report include the significance of international cooperation and the integral role of the private sector. Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, calls upon member states to join forces in addressing this rising threat: “The Internet is a prime example of how terrorists can behave in a truly transnational way; in response, States need to think and function in an equally transnational manner.”

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/s_4641