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Countering Online Radicalisation: A Strategy for Action

Political extremists and terrorists are using the internet as an instrument for radicalisation and recruitment. This report resulting from the first systematic effort to bring together industry, experts and government on the issue of online radicalisation examines what can be done by governments, industry and civil society to counter their activities. Most governments have focused on technical solutions, believing that removing or blocking radicalising material on the internet will solve the problem. Yet, this report shows that any strategy that relies on reducing the availability of content alone is bound to be crude, expensive and counterproductive. Radicalisation is largely a real-world phenomenon that cannot be dealt with simply by ‘pulling the plug’. The analogy with countering child sexual abuse on the internet is flawed, because much of the material involved in child sexual abuse is clearly illegal and there are no political constituencies which might be offended if repressive action is taken against it. Any strategy that hopes to counter online radicalisation must aim to create an environment in which the production and consumption of such materials become not just more difficult in a technical sense but unacceptable as well as less desirable.

Resource published 2009