The tech industry’s alliance against terrorism has announced it will begin tracking content from far-right organizations in a shared counterterrorism database used by major tech companies.
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a nonprofit organization founded by Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, will add manifestos, posts, and links from far-right militias flagged by U.N. anti-terrorist group Tech Against Terrorism to a shared database, the counterterrorism forum told Reuters on Monday. The organization, known as GIFCT, will also share content flagged by Five Eyes, a global partnership between intelligence agencies in the U.S. and other countries, Reuters reported.
The database, established in 2017 and shared exclusively by the tech giants, aggregates hashes—or digital signatures—of images, videos, and URLs, allowing tech companies to remove logged content easily, according to the counterterrorism forum’s website. The resource was previously focused on content primarily from Islamic terror organizations, according to Reuters.
The database will include hashes of content from the groups Proud Boys and Three Percenters, designated terrorist organizations by Five Eyes member Canada but not by the U.N. over their involvement in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Reuters reported.
“Anyone looking at the terrorism or extremism landscape has to appreciate that there are other parts … that are demanding attention right now,” Nicholas Rasmussen, executive director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, told Reuters.
The counterterrorism forum’s decision to expand the database was an important step in moving away from definitions of terrorism that were biased toward Islamist extremism, the organization’s director of programming, Erin Saltman, said Monday in an interview with Protocol.
“Government definitions of terrorism in theory are agnostic to any one religion or ideology. It’s about the violence. It’s about the target and the motive,” Saltman said.
Other than hashes of content related to organizations designated as terrorists by the U.N. and Five Eyes, the database contains manifestos authored by perpetrators of individual terrorist attacks, a spokesperson for the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The organization also expanded its membership, adding vacation rental company Airbnb and emailing service Mailchimp, according to Reuters.
The counterterrorism forum acknowledged concerns over censorship and centralized information curation, attempting to reassure critics.
“We want to really maintain that this is not a cartel,” Saltman told Protocol. “Everyone has their independent policies and practices, some have more human resources than others.”
“Over-achievement in this takes you in the direction of violating someone’s rights on the internet to engage in free expression,” Rasmussen told Reuters.
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