Internet no safe haven for terrorism

Updated: 2014-07-07 07:10

By Shao Zheng(China Daily)

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People have benefited enormously from the development of the Internet. However, terrorist organizations are also making extensive use of this global network to turn it into a new battlefield. Terrorists spread propaganda, glorify extremist ideologies and promote violence via the Internet, and they use it to recruit terrorists and incite individuals to commit terrorist acts by sharing operational instructions, explosive making methods and practical guides. The Internet is also used for fund-raising by many terrorist groups. Furthermore, some terrorists have launched cyberattacks against key institutions and networks.

There should be no safe haven for terrorism on the Internet. To counter online terrorism, efforts should be made to work out national legislation to criminalize the use of the Internet for terrorism. National laws must provide investigators and prosecutors with the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute terrorist offenses on the Internet. Special care is needed to collect and preserve digital evidence to ensure a smooth litigation process against suspected Internet terrorism.

Efforts should be made to strengthen the capacity of the "watchdogs" to prevent and counter the use of the Internet for terrorism. In this age of mega-data, more experts should be trained to identify and remove hidden or disguised terrorist materials, videos and other harmful information on the Internet and prevent potential cyberattacks by terrorists.

Cooperation between criminal justice systems and the business sector, in particular the service providers, should be further enhanced. The private-public partnership is essential to the success of the fight against terrorism on the Internet and there needs to be zero tolerance to it.

The general public should be alerted to the danger of Internet terrorism. Most of the terrorist attackers in China have confessed that they have watched terrorist videos by terrorist groups online. In response, the rapid reporting mechanism should be improved for people to timely report to the police or other departments any terrorist activities or material on the Internet.

International cooperation is also essential in countering Internet-related terrorism. The Internet neither knows nor respects international borders. Over 70 percent of harmful terrorist information in China originated from overseas websites. Under the Global Counterterrorism Strategy adopted by the UN General Assembly, countries have committed to cooperating with the UN to counter terrorism in all its forms and manifestations on the Internet. They have also pledged to make efforts to halt the use of the Internet to spread terrorism. We should implement the Strategy and relevant UN Resolutions and unite with each other in the fight.

There should be no safe haven for terrorism on the Internet. However, winning the cyberwar against terrorism is an enormous challenge. We must have the resolve to win the battle. Failing to adequately respond in a timely manner may put national and international security at risk. We should work hard to prevent the misuse of the Internet for terrorist activities and remove the threats that undermine our global security and well-being. There is no time to waste in this battle against cyberterrorism.

The author is a Chinese diplomat.

(China Daily 07/07/2014 page8)