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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, released today.

The latest strategy rightly highlights the continued threat posed by terrorists online, where the internet is used to inspire, recruit and conspire.

We therefore commend the strategy’s commitment to engage across the tech sector, with governments and civil society in a "co-ordinated, international effort to suppress terrorist exploitation of the internet."

Amongst the measures announced to pursue this aim, the UK government has affirmed its intention to "partner with organisations like Tech Against Terrorism to reduce the availability of terrorist content and reduce the influence of radicalisers on susceptible audiences."

Adam Hadley, Executive Director of Tech Against Terrorism said: “The UK’s updated Contest Strategy is an important signal by the government to prioritise counterterrorism efforts. We particularly welcome the renewed commitment to disrupt terrorist and violent exploitation of the internet. In the online space, we have found that they are in fact turning to unregulated spaces, particularly websites, exploiting poor governance and coordination between the tech sector and law enforcement. We look forward to the CONTEST strategy leading the way in this crucial frontier of counterterrorism.”

Tech Against Terrorism calls on all governments to tackle the recent growth of terrorist-operated websites. While terrorists are finding it harder to exploit social media platforms, they are finding it easier to simply set up websites for recruitment and dissemination. The threat of terrorist operated websites is therefore a strategic priority for Tech Against Terrorism.

Over the past year Tech Against Terrorism has disrupted more than 30 websites. Although we consider this a success, we acknowledge that there is much more to be done to counter this overlooked element of terrorist use of the internet more effectively.

Disrupting terrorist-operated websites is a complicated process that requires durable solutions. Tech Against Terrorism is working to develop procedures and policies that aim to bring about lasting change in mitigating this threat.

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