31 March 2021
The Internet offers numerous opportunities. It can, however, also be misused for violent extremist and terrorist purposes. Examples include the live stream of the Christchurch attack in March 2019 or the Instagram post before the Vienna attack in November 2020 as well as attempts by terrorists to exploit the increase in the use of the Internet and social media associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooperation among States, international, regional, and sub-regional organizations, the private sector, and civil society is essential to addressing this challenge and to further the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
In 2017, the GCTF launched the Zurich-London Recommendations on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Terrorism Online, developed through the Countering Violent Extremism Working Group, Co-Chaired by Australia and Indonesia. The Zurich-London Recommendations are a non-exhaustive compilation of good practices on strategic communications and social media aspects of preventing and combating violent extremism and terrorism online. They are based on the conviction that governments should take action to prevent the use of the Internet for spreading propaganda, dissemination of enabling material, fundraising, intimidation, training, radicalization, recruitment, and incitement of others to commit violent extremist and terrorist acts.
The following year, Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom launched an Initiative to develop a Policy Toolkit to operationalize the Zurich-London Recommendations. This GCTF-developed resource outlines ways for officials to collaborate with information and communication technology (ICT) companies and civil society organizations based on shared responsibilities while ensuring that any policy respects human rights and the rule of law, is context-specific, and gender-sensitive.
Noting the increase in the use of the internet for violent extremist and terrorist purposes, the GCTF Countering Violent Extremism Working Group organized a webinar on the Zurich-London Recommendations Policy Toolkit to discuss experiences with its use and implementation and to exchange good practices. The webinar, which focused on the Southeast Asia region, also promoted the Policy Toolkit as a useful guide for policymakers and governmental experts to tackle the issue of the use of the Internet by violent extremist and terrorist groups.