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Tuesday, December 19 • 16:10 - 17:10
Tackling violent extremism online: new human rights challenges for states and businesses (OF80)

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The scale and complexity of terrorism has evolved, as shown by the growth in the reach of terrorists and terrorist organisations and the changes in their modus operandi. Internet-based communications are widely used by terrorist organisations to incite violence, find new recruits, and coordinate their activities. While the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh) has attracted global attention in this regard, there are also concerns about how other terrorist and violent extremist groups with various ideological backgrounds use the internet to incite hatred, discrimination, violence and terrorism.

Societies face serious challenges in trying to respond to these threats. In their responses, some States have adopted pervasive measures including through surveillance and interception of communications; the collection, retention and analysis of data; and the blocking and filtering of information, often on a widespread scale. The private sector also plays a key role in these activities, and States increasingly are requesting ICT businesses to take measures such as blocking, filtering or removing content, denial of services, and collecting and retaining personal data of Internet users. Internet companies, partly in response to such calls for action, increasingly appear to intensify their efforts to combat “extremist” messages, often in cooperation with States agencies, such as Internet Referral Units.

It is crucial that any measures to prevent and counter violent extremism online are taken in full compliance with international human rights law, in particular the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, privacy, and freedom of religion or belief. Such measures also must not undermine the enormous potential the Internet has to foster democratic participation in public life, stimulate debate on issues of public importance and enhance development. However, the interplay and at times cooperation and collaboration of States and business enterprises in responding jointly to extremism online is often problematic due, for example, to poorly defined legal concepts (such as “extremism” or “national security”), insufficient oversight and lack of transparency and accountability. The session will focus on a sharing of experiences and initiatives to prevent violent extremism online, with a view to addressing some of the human rights challenges and recommendations for ways to move forward.

Tag 1: Human Rights
Tag 2: Freedom of Expression
Tag 3: Privacy
Name(s) of Speaker(s):

Kate Gilmore, OHCHR, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights (moderator)

David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Fiona Asonga, CEO, Technology Service Providers Association of Kenya, Kenya

Brett Solomon, Access Now, Executive Director, Australia

Chinmayi Arun, National Law University Delhi, Centre for Communication Governance, Executive Director, India

Alexandria Walden, Public Policy and Government Relations Counsel, Google

Name of Online Moderator: TBD
Background Paper:
Past IGF Participation: Yes
Report Link:
Name: Mr. Tim Engelhardt
Organizational Affiliation: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights


Session Organizers

Tim Engelhardt

OHCHR (UN Human Rights)

Tuesday December 19, 2017 16:10 - 17:10 CET
Room XXV - E United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)