2 min read

Tech Against Terrorism Welcomes Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation Annual Report

Annual assessment maps out the challenges faced by government and tech platforms in countering terrorism online, and highlights concerns about forthcoming Online Safety Bill.

Tech Against Terrorism today welcomed the latest report by the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Jonathan Hall KC. This year’s evaluation focuses on the internet, which is described as the "new frontier for counterterrorism".

The Independent Reviewer’s report gives an excellent assessment of the complexities faced by both the UK government and tech companies when dealing with online terrorism.

The report articulates the challenge well by stating that "[t]otal outsourcing of counterterrorism to private companies could lead to a loss of trust in civil society and in government, alongside legitimate fears that tech companies are ill-equipped to make decisions touching on terrorism and national security."

The report therefore recognises the role of partnerships between public and private sectors in countering terrorism online. Since its inception, Tech Against Terrorism has pioneered public-private partnerships and the Independent Reviewer’s report explains the organisation’s work, particularly with smaller tech platforms.

The report discusses Tech Against Terrorism’s "impressive focus on transparency and detailed analysis, going beyond mere research, which attempts to identify, through inclusion in a Terrorist Content Analytics Platform, content whose removal is justified."

Tech Against Terrorism’s Terrorist Content Analytics Platform aims to track, verify and alert platforms of terrorist content online. Since its launch, the platform has identified over 43,000 pieces of terrorist content and alerted over 100 platforms.

Tech Against Terrorism has also placed a priority on identifying and removing terrorist-operated websites, and we are grateful for the report shining a light on this rising and pernicious threat.

The report raises unresolved concerns about the Online Safety Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords. While the Bill rightly places a particular emphasis on protecting children, Jonathan Hall KC questions "why the Online Safety Bill excludes terrorism content from heightened child-specific duties."

The Online Safety Bill must still navigate the complexities of content moderation, especially in relation to what the report describes as "terrorist conduct" and "terrorist content".  According to Mr Hall, how to define "terrorist content" is left wide open by Online Safety Bill, as is the question of whether certain forms of "terrorist content" are more likely to lead to violence than others.

Among Tech Against Terrorism's proposed recommendations for the Online Safety Bill, we call for clearer definitions for harmful and terrorist content, as well as appropriate support mechanisms to ease compliance with the Bill.

Overall, commending the Independent Reviewer’s report, Adam Hadley, founding Executive Director of Tech Against Terrorism said: “The latest report from the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation provides an essential basis for developing more robust legislation against online terrorism in the UK. Sounder legislation will give a clear direction for tech companies to act on terrorist content found on their platforms. That is why we agree with Jonathan Hall’s overarching call that the aim of content removal in the name of counter-terrorism must be to reduce terrorist violence not merely terrorist offending.”


  1. The Report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation was published on 5 May 2023 and can be found at:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-terrorism-acts-in-2021/the-terrorism-acts-in-2021-report-of-the-independent-reviewer-of-terrorism-legislation-accessible
  2. Tech Against Terrorism equips and enables technology companies to counter terrorist use of the internet. It is an independent public-private partnership initiated by the UN Security Council. https://www.techagainstterrorism.org/

The UK’s Response to Terrorism Online: Tech Against Terrorism Responds to Launch of CONTEST Strategy

Tech Against Terrorism, a UN-backed online counterterrorism organisation, gives its reaction to the updated UK’s Counterterrorism Strategy, CONTEST,...

Read More
Tech Against Terrorism alert tech platforms to online terrorist and violent extremist content from Israel-Palestine

Tech Against Terrorism alert tech platforms to online terrorist and violent extremist content from Israel-Palestine

In response to the continuing violence in Israel and Gaza since Saturday, 7 October 2023, Tech Against Terrorism has monitored online threats to life...

Read More

Who Designates Terrorism? The Need for Legal Clarity and Transparency to Moderate Terrorist Content Online

A new report from Tech Against Terrorism reveals that there has been a limited application of designation when it comes to tackling terrorist content...

Read More