UN joins forces with private sector to tackle terrorist use of Internet

22 February 2010The United Nations and the private sector, including Microsoft and other corporations, are joining forces to identify ways of combating the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes, including the recruitment of members and the organizing of terrorist acts. The Working Group on Countering the Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes – part of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) – is holding talks at Microsoft’s headquarters, near the United States city of Seattle, with the company and others, including Symantec and McAfee, to examine technical issues surrounding the topic. The CTITF was set up in 2005 and brings together two dozen UN entities, working under mandates from the General Assembly, the Security Council and various specialized agencies, funds and programmes. The two-day gathering which started today is the first of its kind at the UN level to bring together Member States and entities of the world body with the private sector and academia to examine ways to counter terrorist use of the Internet, according to Jean-Paul Laborde, who heads the CTITF. There is a high level of crime on the Internet, and “it is essential that you bring in the private sector, [which is] an essential partner in moving forward,” Richard Barrett, who co-chairs the Working Group, told the UN News Centre. The meeting comes on the heels of a gathering last month in Berlin, Germany, where participants examined laws currently in place regarding the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes, such as direct attacks on networks and computer systems. Member States have yet to agree on a precise definition of “terrorism.” This complicates discussions on possible legal frameworks to prevent or curtail terrorists’ use of the Internet due to the resulting questions over possible infringements on the freedom of speech and human rights, Mr. Barrett noted. A third meeting, looking into how the Internet can also be utilized to counter the appeal of terrorism, is scheduled to be held in the near future. The aim is to produce a comprehensive guide offering an assessment of the challenges as well as tools to counter terrorist use of the Internet.

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