Saturday

18th Jan 2020

Internet giants discuss jihad with EU ministers

High ranking officials from Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft met with EU interior ministers and the European Commission at a private dinner in Luxembourg to discuss ways to counter online jihadist propaganda.

The following morning, on Thursday (9 October), EU commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmstrom said the Internet firms explained how they co-ordinate efforts to stop the Islamic State (IS) from uploading decapitation videos.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Tech firms and government officials met to discuss online counter-terrorism tactics (Photo: FreedomHouse2)

“It was especially them who spoke and how they worked, the ministers asked them questions, and we discussed about the possibilities of training,” she said.

Malmstrom backed away from proposing any new laws to counter the IS threat, noting that existing instruments, such as the EU’s radicalisation awareness network (RAN), are enough.

“It is an urgent problem but there is no quick fix,” she said.

RAN is an umbrella network set up to prevent people from turning towards violence and terrorism.

The plan is to increase dialogue between politicians and Internet firms.

Details remain vague, but the broad idea is to develop specific counter-narrative initiatives.

Other proposals include organising joint training and awareness-raising workshops for law enforcement authorities, Internet industry and civil society.

Jihadist groups, for their part, are using social media outlets to recruit new members.

Between 2,000 to 5,500 foreign fighters are said to have joined the ranks of radical figters since-mid 2011 in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

The figures are based on estimates from the UK-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), which believes up to 18 percent of the total come from Europe.

Ministers push for PNR

Gruesome decapitation videos of journalists, aid workers, and the cold-blood killings of soldiers and civilians at the hands of IS fighters have also prompted renewed calls to relaunch stalled EU legislation on tracking airline passengers flying in and out of the EU.

Interior ministers on Thursday were discussing how to set up an EU "PNR" (Passenger Name Records) system, despite a backlash on privacy rights in the European Parliament.

The commission tabled the airline surveillance bill in 2011, but was pushed back last spring by the parliament’s civil liberties committee.

Its initial proposal only covered monitoring air travel from outside the EU.

But the scope of the bill was expanded, at the initiative of the UK government and other member states, to also include tracking of air passenger movements inside the European Union.

Member states are now pushing to get the proposal finalised by the end of the year, with British ministers lobbying MEPs to drum up support.

“MEPs need to understand the nature of the threats, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be briefed on highly classified intelligence,” said one EU official.

Asked how the EU PNR can track foreign fighters if most do not fly straight to Syria but instead slip across the border with Turkey or via other countries, the EU official gave a mixed response.

“The best answer you are going to get is bit of a rough guess of how this is going to be used,” the contact noted.

Interview

Cloud of mistrust over Malta's new government

Malta's new government does not look likely to turn it into a normal, law-abiding EU state any time soon, the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said.

Belgium, France, UK in EU court surveillance blow

Although non-binding, a critical opinion from the EU's top court could mean laws in Belgium, France and the UK allowing for the indiscriminate bulk collection of people's data may have to be eventually amended to respect EU privacy rules.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

European politicians caught with Russian 'fake likes'

Politicians and political parties in Europe have had bots generate fake 'likes', views, and comments to boost their online popularity, in what has been described as outright voter manipulation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us