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Europol says it has taken Islamic State presences offline
by Paul Hill
The European Union’s police agency, Europol, has announced that it has hit Islamic State’s online presence, claiming that the group is totally offline for the time being. With the rapidity that online groups can be set up, they may spring back up in time but it’ll likely take a while for any subscribers of those channels to reconnect.
Commenting on the operation, Eric Van Der Sypt, a spokesman at Europol, said:
One of the terror group’s main channels of communications was Telegram but Europol was able to shut down channels and groups on that platform with the assistance of the app’s developers. Europol subsequently thanked Telegram for helping it to root out the malicious content. Telegram was not alone in hosting terrorist content though, as ISIS was also operating on Twitter, Instagram, and services run by Google.
In total, Europol said that it was working with nine platforms in total to conduct the coordinated takedown. Europol also confirmed that Spain's Guardia Civil arrested a suspected disseminator of propaganda.
UK Home Office AI tackles extremist propaganda [Update]
by Paul Hill
The UK Home Office has announced a new software tool that uses artificial intelligence to automatically detect terrorist content on platforms online, and ideally, remove them before they’re uploaded. The Government plans to distribute the software to smaller companies in order to tackle, more widely, the problem of extremist content propagated by terrorists and their supporters.
In the announcement, the Home Office said:
The software was developed in collaboration between the Home Office and ASI Data Science. It uses advanced machine learning in order to analyse the audio and visual data from content uploaded to the net and determines whether it could be ISIS propaganda. The technology is similar to that which the major tech companies already employ; with the software that the Government has developed, small companies, who don’t have the resources, will also be able to block propaganda.
The UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said:
Several companies identified that could benefit from the newly developed software include Vimeo; Telegram’s publication platform, Telegra.ph; and pCloud.
Update: Andrey Yanakov, Partner Program Manager and Lead Marketing Strategist at pCloud reached out to us with the following statement:
Source: UK Home Office via The Guardian
By Oscar S
Theresa May to call for more AI to fight online terrorist content
by Richard Tyr Blewitt
According to the Evening Standard, it is expected today a number of World leaders from Italy, France, and the UK will make demands to internet companies- like Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft - to do more in the fight against online extremism.
The leaders are apparently going to demand that internet companies develop the technological ability to take down extremist content between one and two hours after having been posted, Theresa May is allegedly going to specifically mention that a further development of artificial intelligence in the online fight is needed. The political leaders are giving the companies one month in order to come up with something, apparently, if they do not, then Western governments will be forced to consider legislation that will fine companies that do not act effectively in fighting online terrorism.
On the 20th of October, the interior ministers from G7 nations will meet in Rome and review what has been done, and reach a decision on whether they need to intervene further. The main target that these companies need to try and clamp down on is obviously the Islamic State terror group, who between January and May of this year managed to disseminate 27,000 items through outlets like Twitter.
The content they were able to spread ranged from bomb-making videos, footage glorifying their "caliphate", and calls to go out and conduct vehicle or knife attacks on civilians in Western cities. This content was shared most rapidly within the first two hours of it being posted.
It appears that Facebook, YouTube, and Google are considering the use of automated systems and perhaps AI to identify and block extremist content. Twitter has been able to shut down thousands of suspected terrorist accounts over the last few years, apparently, they have even been able to do so even before some of these accounts were able to post anything.
Facebook has already this week been forced to hand over ads and content that relate to a Senate investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US elections, and the social media company has also said it will try and protect the integrity of Canadian elections in 2019. Stories like these and the meeting taking place today in New York emphasize that it is very difficult for large tech companies to be able to stay out of political and global affairs.
Source: Evening Standard
Daesh hack and deface Ohio government websites
by Paul Hill
Government websites for the state of Ohio were the latest targets of Daesh’s online activities. Several websites were hacked into and defaced to show a pro-Daesh message, including a warning to Donald Trump, the US President. The state is currently investigating how the hackers were able to get into their systems to deface the websites.
The hackers, who go by the name Team System Dz, wrote the following message on the website underneath the Daesh logo:
The websites affected by the hack included the Ohio Governor John Kasich’s office, the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the Ohio Office of Workforce Transformation, the Ohio Office of Health Transformation, the Ohio Inspector General’s website and the Ohio Dept. of Medicaid.
The spokesperson for the governor’s office and the Ohio Dept. of Administrative Service both issued statements about the incident, the governors office said:
The latter’s statement read:
Short of carrying out a physical terror attack on civilian populations, hacking websites has become one of Daesh’s favourite means of attacking countries or entities, with many examples to show for it.
Apple helped UK law enforcement investigate terrorist attacks
by Paul Hill
Following Saturday's London Bridge terrorist attack, Apple’s Tim Cook confirmed that the company had helped with law enforcement's investigations into who was involved in helping prepare the attack on Saturday. To what extent Apple has been able to help with the investigation unknown.
In an interview on Monday, Tim Cook said:
In the interview, Cook clarified that Apple’s encryption doesn't stop surveillance agencies from collecting metadata and that it’s “very important for building a profile.” Cook’s position on helping law enforcement hasn't changed since last year when he said Apple will continue to help law enforcement in investigations.
Encryption has become a contentious issue for governments around the world. After the Snowden leaks revealed that America and its allies were able to spy on users, tech companies began deploying encryption on messenger apps and on devices' storage. As a response, governments are calling for weaker encryption, which they could break.