Addressing violent extremist and terrorist use of the internet
While the internet has helped to build a more open, connected work, it has also increasingly become a tool for terrorism and violent extremism. The Government of Canada is working with international allies and the tech sector, as well as with experts and frontline practitioners, to prevent social media and other online platforms from being used as tools to incite violence, publish and distribute propaganda and promote hatred.
The Canada Centre leads on initiatives that complement steps that the Government of Canada is already taking to address violent extremist and terrorist use of the internet, which is among the priorities under the National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence.
Through the Community Resilience Fund, projects are already underway to counter violent extremism and terrorism online. Some examples of these projects include:
- Moonshot’s Canada Redirect project, which used online advertising tools and Internet video channels to direct individuals to content created by credible third parties that challenge ideologies that can motivate destructive attitudes and behaviour.
- MediaSmarts’ project, Pushing Back Against Hate in Online Communities, which examined how young Canadians experience and respond to online hate speech, in order to shape programs and policies to help youth better recognize, resist and respond to hate material online.
- YWCA’s project, Block Hate: Building Resilience against Online Hate Speech, will examine hate speech trends across Canada and work with experts to develop online tools and digital literacy training for young Canadians aged 14 to 30 across ten communities.
- Tech Against Terrorism’s Terrorist Content Analytics Platform, which is the world’s first centralized platform of verified terrorist content and is aimed at facilitating tech company moderation of terrorist content and improving quantitative analysis of terrorist use of the Internet to aid in preventing and countering this online activity.
- Ontario Tech University (OTU)’s update to its Environmental Scan of Right‐wing Extremism in Canada. OTU also partnered with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to conduct innovative analysis of online content and media coverage, which will inform local responses to hate speech and hate crime.
Canada joined governments and industry leaders from across the globe in adopting the Christchurch Call to Action, a global pledge to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, and is committed to meeting its goals. In response to the Christchurch Call to Action, the Government of Canada committed up to $1 million to Tech Against Terrorism to create the Terrorist Content Analytics Platform, a digital repository that will notify smaller companies when new terrorist content is detected, and held a National Youth Summit on Countering Violent Extremism Online in 2019 in Gatineau, Quebec.
Through the Christchurch Call, governments and online service providers are making voluntary, collective commitments to prevent people from abusing the internet to promote and sensationalize acts of terrorism. These commitments include:
- Building more inclusive, resilient communities to counter violent radicalization
- Enforcing laws that stop the production and dissemination of terrorist and extremist content online
- Encouraging media to apply ethical rules when reporting on terrorist events to avoid amplifying terrorist and violent extremist content
- Consider appropriate action to prevent the use of online services to disseminate terrorist and violent extremist content, including through collaborative actions, such as:
- Awareness-raising and capacity-building activities aimed at smaller online service providers
- Development of industry standards or voluntary frameworks;
- Regulatory or policy measures consistent with a free, open and secure internet and international human rights law
Canada continues to work with Five Eyes partners, through the Five Country Ministerial, and G7 countries to engage with digital industry, notably the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). Founded by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, the GIFCT brings together representatives from industry, government, civil society and academia to develop and implement collaborative solutions to violent extremist and terrorist use of the internet.
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