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IGF 2018 - Day 2 - Salle IV - WS185 Preventing Youth from Online Violent Radicalization

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris, France, from 12 to 14 November 2018. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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(Sounding gavel)

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Good evening and good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to one of the most interesting panels organized during this IGF workshop.  For those who attended this morning's workshop in Room 11, I would like to say that some of the issues were similar, but as the challenges are so huge, it's always good to have different views in addressing this issue of violent radicalization of young people by using new technologies.

As you may know, this was initiated, the work of UNESCO in this area, was initiated in June 2015 by the first-ever conference on the challenges of Internet and the youth radicallyization leading to violence, so we are extremely proud to have here with us an outgoing chair of the intergovernmental council for information program, Madam Chafica Haddad, who was sharing the program at that time and who helped this program to be crafted first at the level of the CI sector, then at UNESCO, and consequently the Secretary General at that time, Banke Moon, took it from UNESCO as an idea and made his own plan of action about which you all know, adopted in January 2016.

So since that time, a lot of similar activities happened around the world, and today more than ever, we can express some satisfaction by the fact that fortunately enough, our activities produced the expected results, and there is much less opportunities for propaganda on the social media, although, you know, at the beginning it was not so obvious, since the big companies were quite reluctant in applying the images that we were promoting.

Twitter, I must say, was the most active in playing the game by closing over three years more than 450,000 Twitter accounts spreading propaganda of hatred, violence, and extremism all around.

So today we're here to discuss what else we have to do because this is endless work, endless effort.  I like to quote one of the French big thinkers who said that in democracy, every generation is a new people.  That means that every generation, every year, we have to explain, we have to make sure that the same messages are passed, that we're mobilizing the synergies, that we're having the researchers continuing their work, that we are finding new ways because the technology's evolving, and by evolving, we have to adapt, so it's an extremely challenging issue, it's an extremely challenging work, and we are thankful for you being here today because that shows the interest, and I'm very glad to see a lot of young people also attending.

So with these few remarks, I would like now to invite Madam Chafica, who is the deputy delegate GRULAC to UNESCO.  She has played key roles into UNESCO's standard activities and variousivity governmental form and commissions.  She was the director for the center for action development and industrial understanding and the UNESCO club's centers and associations.  Madam Haddad, you have the floor. 

>> CHAFICA HADDAD: Thank you thank you very much.  Dear participates, ladies and gentlemen, UNESCO is playing a key role toward peaceful, just, and inclusive societies, which are -- which are free from fear and violence.  As the Agenda 2030 mentions, there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.

In the framework of the organization's mandate, UNESCO is empowering young women and men to live up to their potential as positive change actors through unique cross-ectorisectorial work on education as a tool to prevent violent extremism, youth participation, and emPowerShell PowerPoint, media and online coalitions for the prevention of violent extremism and celebrating cultural diversity.  (Empowerment).

On behalf of the chair of the Information for All Program,ivea, the representative of Ghana, I'm happy to provide you with details on UNESCO's role and follow up in addressing the issue of preventing youth from online radicalization leading to violent extremism.

She wanted to be with us today but had another engagement and requested me to convey a message from her.  I quote, It is important to give young people the tools that will allow them to resist those who attempt to manipulate them using grooming techniques linked to social media and other digital means.  It is impossible to overemphasize the need for all nations to actively promote media information literacy and the ethics of online discourse.  End of quote.

The UN's Global Counter terrorism Strategy adopted in 2006 by the General Assembly, encouraged UNESCO to play a key role concerning measures to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.  When focusing on media and online coalitions for the prevention of violent extremism, it is important to remember that preventing violent extremism is a commitment and obligation under the principles and values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.

In 2013, the UNESCO General Conference passed a resolution on Internet and issues, which encourage international and interdisciplinary reflection and debate on the ethical challenges of immersions -- emerging technologies.  IFAP was established in 2001 to provide a platform for international policy discussions, compass heity building cooperation -- capacity building cooperation and the development of national policy framework and guidelines for actions in the area of access to information and knowledge.

IFAP was created by UNESCO to respond to the challenges of the knowledge societies.  Through its intervention across its strategic priority areas, IFAP is contributing to the creation of inclusive knowledge societies. 

In March 2015, as mentioned earlier, UNESCO organized the Conference -- no, it was not mentioned, I'm sorry -- organized the Conference Connecting the Dots that led to the decision 56 of the general conference entitled Connecting the dots, option for future action, UNESCO's role in Internet related issues, which endorsed a range of options, including a call for human rights-based ethical reflection, research, and public dialogue on the implication of new and emerging technologies and their potential societal impact.

UNESCO also organized, in June 2015, in the framework of IFAP, the first-ever international conference on use and the Internet, fighting radicalization and extremism.  The conference called for a greater media and information literacy and for a holistic response to use rad -- reduce radicalization based on knowledge and the respect of human rights.

This was followed in 2016 by the international conference Internet and the Radicalization of Use, Preventing, Acting, and Living Together, coorganized by UNESCO, IFAP, and the Government of Quebec, with the support of the Canadian government.  The resulting Quebec call for action adopted by the General Conference last session called all stakeholders, the international community to take multidimensional action to combat violent extremism by supporting policy-relevant research on linkages between youth, Internet, and radicalization, dealing with radicalization, as well as researchers informed policy and action to exercise their rights and engage as active citizens.

It was also encouraging all actions to empowering youth online communities and key stakeholders to counter radicalization by building their competencies and skills and by equipping them with creative and knowledge -- creative tools and knowledge.  It called also to mobilization and cooperation between media professionals to combat radicalization and online hate speeches with a focus on country suffering tensions and conflict situations and also to support media campaigns and targeting policymakers, online youth communities, and opinion makers.

As a result, this multidimensional action can be observed in a number of initiatives from UNESCO work on media and information literacy, engaging young people to exercise their rights, and be active citizens in the Net MED project or establishing guidelines to combat online radicalization and youth -- online radicalization of youth and violence extremism.

Further reflection was led in 2017 where UNESCO and IFAP organized an international conference on youth and ICT toward countering violent extremism in cyberspace in Beirut, Lebanon. 

After this, an expert presentation meeting under the team Dark Net, the new societal legal, technological, and ethical challenges was organized by IFAP and the Knowledge Society's division in September 2017 in UNESCO to discuss the challenges of cyber threats and ways to improve national strategies through innovative and global solutions in that respect.

Other meetings followed to present the current effort by the international community, particularly UNESCO and IFAP, in establishing effective measures to prevent online radicalization and stimulate the youth of Internet for peace, understanding, and intercultural dialogue as well as the ethical implications of the Darknet.

A recent study of UNESCO on youth and violent extremism on social media shows some evidence for correlation between exposure to extremist propaganda and recruitment and expression of extremist attitudes and increased risk for violent radicalization among youth, particularly in the case of extreme right wing groups; however, the exact roles and processes via which Internet and social media contribute to the radicalization processes needs to be further explored.

The IFAP Strategic Plan does emphasize the priority intervention of raising awareness about these ethical issues, further investigate the use of cyberspace for the radicalization of young people leading to violence.  It foresees the creation of a network of institutions working on online radicalization and more awareness on policy options for managing radicalization on the Internet.

In recognition of the transboundary nature of the Internet, IFAP will keep on supporting regional and international cooperation, capacity building research, the exchange of good practices, and development of broad understanding and capabilities to respond to these ethical challenges.  I thank you for your attention. 

(Applause)

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Thank you, Madam Haddad, for this overview of IFAP engagement with the international community to cooperate and strengthen efforts to prevent youth radicalization worldwide.  This is a very important work that has been achieved thanks to your personal involvement, for which, again, we express our deep appreciation.

Now we have two speakers who will speak and provide a youth perspective on questioning the narratives and eye tease on which extremist groups are founded through the development of consistent counter narratives and through educational information communication technologies.  It is my pleasure now to give the floor to Mrs. Divina Frau-Meigs, who is a professor of immediateology and a professor of master at the University la Sorbonne.  She's also a member of the European Commission's High Level Expert group on fake news and online misinformation.  Divina, please. 

>> DIVINA FRAU-MEIGS: Thank you, Boyan.  Thank you, everybody.  Sorry for changing the program.  I will have to leave just before 4:00 to go and fetch students from mine from Sorbonne in a Vel who want to attend the IGF in UNESCO, so apologies if you see me rush out.  It's not that I don't like you, it's that I like my students too, if I may say so.

Thank you very much, and thank you, Mrs. Haddad for mentioning the book on youth extremism and social media that I did with two of my colleagues, (?) and (?)  for which you did some of the -- give some of the results unconclusive results, it was a mapping of the state-of-the-art of research dealing with radicalization, and I think we have to continue doing research, but basically, it's true that we did say that Internet, social media were facilitating an but were not the causal reason for radicalization in that a lot of the offline world and the interaction between the different media, mass media and social media, had to be taken into account, so conscious, as usual, with research, and I do hope we continue with UNESCO putting research and evidence-based policy forward, which is something that we've always tried to do, even though it's difficult and painful sometimes, but it's one of the reasons UNESCO always provides an ethical busol is the word I'm looking for in English, an ethical GPS, if you want, on these issues that are burning hot and that are part of the whole cluster, in my opinion, what I call information disorders in the plural because there's radicalization, there's disinformation, there's propaganda, and there's a lot of manipulation.

But I would like to emphasize more the solutions side of the research and of education, and so I'll be speaking mostly from a perspective of my UNESCO chair, which is called (Speaking non-English language), becoming, as I said this morning in the other session, just like the title of Michelle Obama's book, but this idea that you have to train young people who've been born with the Internet to master it and not just be there sort of in the wild and to learn to become and to grow and to project themselves into their own future.

And with the chair, there is also an association that we created, also called (Speaking non-English language), that engages in the transmission of digital media literacy, so this is what I would like to insist upon is how to go about needa and information literacy, how to ensure that media and information literacy is the counter narrative among all the others but is the one that is the most holistic, the one that can accompany young people from (Media) very early stages at school and throughout their maturity instead of cases of solutions that are dedicated to a certain age group, that are one shot, which is what we see mostly in the research, nice initiatives, projects that may last one, two, at best three years, and then we have a very hard time ensuring that they continue and that they enlarge at the national level, so there's a lot of money in these projects, a lot of energy, a lot of knowledge, a lot of people's best intentions and best practices and best pedagogies, and my feeling as a researcher in media and information literacy is that the effect is a very small trickle-down effect at the moment when all of us feel that there's an emergency in mastering the Internet and being very careful not to take measures that are going to censor it or restrain it while at the same time ensuring that some of the values that we all carry here are also embraced by the Internet, especially in terms of respect of humankind.

So that's why at (Speaking non-English language), we really try to push the competencies perspective, which is often forgotten by good practices.  Practitioners are on the field.  They want to solve one issue that they identify, and they don't see that they could be part of the larger picture that we're trying to build as researchers and practitioners that engages competencies, and as I always say, you have to see the competencies as a butterfly, a butterfly with four wings, one which is skills, knowing how to use the Internet for sure; another one which is about attitudes and especially respect and self-respect and tolerance to others and to ambiguity to other cultures; and then there is knowledge because you have to build a certain amount of knowledge about the Internet, and we're southerly missing about the economics of Internet, about the Darknet, and without knowledge (Sorely) we take decisions that are blind or can be rash, so it's about critical knowledge or so.  And the last one is values, so for a butterfly to fly, it has to have four wings and not just one or two of them, and I think it's an appropriate metaphor for us to continue together because it's a smiley metaphor.

And that's the other thing I'm trying to push with my colleagues and with UNESCO.  We're in discussion at the moment about that, but creating in each country a smile center, which is to say a center for the synergies of media and information literacy in each country, so that people who have some practices who want to go beyond, who want to network with other smile centers around the world can do it because we think that getting the support of outsiders is sometimes one of the best ways to avoid being caught in one's own countries boxes, which is what propaganda and radicalization does, it creates an atmosphere of polarization of people, the impossibility of having a dialogue but end up in a blood bath, be it a verbal blood bath or a physical one, so I think this is one of the interests of places like UNESCO where we can exchange that and say, well, you know, sometimes getting out of the box of your own country, of your own situation can be helpful, but how do you create situations like that?  You can do it also online, and you can have a network of these smile centers that interacts online, exchanges resources, and looks for more ways of strategizing.

And so this smile center obviously has to be multistakeholder.  There certainly is a way where you can negotiate with other private sector, the public sector, NGOs, et cetera, because one of my concerns as a mail researcher at the moment is independent research about these issues is rarer and rarer.  It's -- a lot of it is sponsored by the GAFAMs, and can you see how they want to participate, but you can see how this can put some suspicion on the independence of research that is being funded by the very social media that are being incriminated, so there has to be some kind of means of neutralizing the origin of the help to research so that it can proceed independently, and this can only be done with the help of public governments, with universities, academia, et cetera, so a smile center has academia in it, has a private sector, has a public sector, and ensures that there is positive synergies and independence in the funding and the results, of course.

So this is something, I think, I'd like to share with you.  The last thing I want to mention is that we -- we can also repurpose -- and it's one of the things that for me is going to help scaling up male, scaling up training of teachers, scaling up training of NGO people who want to go into male, et cetera, and when we're scaling up, we're using some of the research tools, some of the private-sector tools that are out there, and trying to see how they can be modified, augmented to go towards the male community in this court and outside this court.

So at the moment, you should know that with UNESCO, we are doing a hack-a-thon on combating information disorders and acting against, trying to understand solution to act against, and we're using two already existing tools.  One is emerging from research, which is a plug-in that's called Invid that allows to you do forensics on fake news and figure out fake videos, et cetera.  And another one that is a platform called Seriously, that helps people develop strategies for debate, talking to the others without fighting, et cetera, and we are discussing during this hack-a-thon that is taking place at Sorbonne Nuvel with ISOC as partner and with (?) as partner, we're discussing with young people the way to put these tools already existing, lots of money into this, into this cause and also directly on computers for young people, teachers, parents to use, but making it easier of access and of use.

And so for me this is what Male is about.  It's about sharing, it's about caring, it's about building resilience among young people from very early, and you should see young people who are five, six, or seven, how they swallow this kind of thing and get into it with a lot of pleasure, and this is a message I want to leave with you is this message of a beautiful butterfly that is a butterfly of all our young people using competencies that actually really empower them.  Thank you. 

(Applause)

>> ROXANA RADU: Thank you very much, Divina.  I am always very pleased to listen to you.  We work on this quite a long time, a long and very productive cooperation, and it's always a pleasure to know the progress achieved by you and your team on all these important issues. 

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: The only concern I have when you made the competencies of a butterfly, knowing the life expectancy of a butterfly is three to four weeks at the maximum, I hope the competencies we're building lasts a lot longer, but this is, of course, just to use the metaphor that you used in your presentation. 

So now thank you again.  We will move to our next speaker, who is Mr. Marc Hecker.  He's a director of the French Institute for International Relations and editor in chief of the magazine p politic (Speaking non-English language).  I must say that I saw the last number of (Speaking non-English language) devoted to the Internet and issues on cyberspace.  Congratulations.  Extremely interesting.

A Ph.D. in political science from the (Speaking non-English language) Sorbonne.  He teaches a course on terrorism and isometric warfare at (?).  Author of several books, including (?) and Work 2.0, (?) welfare in the information age.  Marc will provide some case studies on profiles of individuals sentenced in France for cases related to Jihadism and some ideas on which extremist groups are founded, so, Marc, please. 

>> MARC HECKER: Thank you, Boyan.  Thank you for the presentation.  I'm going to present this study.  It's called 137 Shades of Terrorism, French Jihadists before the courts.  You can find it online on the website, so (Speaking non-English language).  Of course, I'm not going to present the whole study now because I only have ten minutes, so I'm going to focus on the web aspects of this study, and I have to say as an introduction that the radicalization processes that I study often are a mix of online and offline interaction, and we, of course, this is on the Internet, on the web, but we should not forget the offline side because offline aspects are always very important in radicalization processes too.

That being said, I've tried to identify different ways in which the trysts that I studied -- terrorists that I studied and were convicted by French courts over the past years use the Internet, and I singled out four different ways they use the web.

First, the Internet is quite often used as a library, a radical library, by those terrorists.  It's still easy today, even though it's true that the main platforms have tried to get rid of a lot of radical content, but still it is easy today to find radical content online, and you do not even have to go to the Darknet to find this content.  You can even find this content on websites that are really easily accessible.  So you can find the full web magazines, for instance, produced by ISIS, you can find videos, you can find audios, you can find radical images, you can find handbooks, doctrines, so the things that I studied used the Internet as a radical library.

The second use of the Internet that I singled out is a recruitment tool, so social media, in particular, are used by terrorist groups to try and find new recruits, and in my study, for instance, there was a man, a recruiter, who tried to hook young people on social media, and once he had hooked them online, then would pass to the offline interax, and they set up meetings in -- interactions, and they set up meetings in real life in different cities in France, and this recruiter managed to recruit at least three young people, and first he had met them online.

Then the third use of the Internet, the third way terrorists use the web is as a communication tool, so once terrorist groups are constituted, the Internet serves as a way for terrorists to interact, and it's quite surprising, you really have terrorists today who are not aware of the level of surveillance of the Internet and who keep on discussing quite openly their projects and -- well, they end up in front of courts because they are caught by the authorities, but it's still surprising that today some of the terrorists are not aware of the surveillance.

But on the other hand, you also have terrorists who are aware of the surveillance and who use different techniques to try and avoid being detected by the police or the intelligence agencies, and among these techniques, they use encryption, they use anonymous email addresses and leave their message in the Draft section, they fragment also their conversation between different platforms, and quite often it's platforms that are not well-known by the public.  We're not speaking here about Facebook, Twitter, or even Telegram, we're speaking about a much smaller platforms that are not necessarily American or European platforms, and they discuss, then, quite openly about their project, but here they're quite protected by these different measures that they take to avoid being detected.

Then there's a fourth use of the Internet that I managed to single out, and it's a use to try and plan attacks, and here you have different platforms that are used, Google Earth, for instance, can be used to try and have a broad view of an area where a specific terrorist attack can take place.  Or I'll just give you a precise example that I had in my sample.  There was a terrorist convicted in France who had Googled over a three-month period more than 800 times how to prepare bombs or how to make an attack, and, again, this guy was -- this man was caught by the police and by the domestic intelligence agency, but the fact is that you have terrorists who still use Google or YouTube to try and find did you tors or videos on how to -- tutorials or videos on how to prepare and make an attack.

So once we've said that, what can be done to try and counter those four different uses of the Internet by terrorists?  And here I have to say -- and that's not in my study, that's more linked to a previous study that I did in 2015, and this one was only in French, so I won't quote it, but you can find it on the website too, and here you can single out three different methods that have been used over the past years to try and counter the use of the Internet by terrorists.

The first one, of course, is low enforcement work.  It is important, the online actions of terrorists can be monitored, they can be tracked, proof can be gathered, and if you go to court to attend trials, you will see that quite often the proofs that are used to condemn the individuals were found online.  I'll just give you one example.  I attended a trial last year in Paris.  It was about a group who joined -- a Jihadist group in Syria, and the leader of the group said he wanted to go there to do humanitarian work, but then the prosecutor said, well, if we look at the internal code of the individual, we can see that he was not consulting the websites of humanitarian organizations, but he was consulting the websites of terrorist organizations, and he ended up joining a terrorist organization, and the whole group was convicted to several years in jail.

Second method used to counter the use of the Internet by terrorists is counter-messaging.  A good and efficient counter-narrative is composed of three different things.  First, a good message, then a good messenger, and then a good platform.  A good message is not easy to tailor.  If you take the example of France vs. ISIS, the main messages that were sent were about first -- we tried to explain that -- or the French government tried to explain that ISIS presents a utopian vision of the cal fate, wherein the other was very hash.  Second message, it was about exposing the atrocities done by ISIS and to show that the rhetoric used by the group about justice was just a lie.  And then a third big message was to insist on ISIS setbacks that contradict the propaganda of the operation about the expansion of the group.  But I think that there were some elements missing in this counter-messaging and especially the religious side that was deliberately avoided by the government.

So, of course, this leads to the question of the messenger.  You will quite often hear people say that the big authorities, governments, are not the best messengers because their production will immediately be discredited as state propaganda.  I have to say that I disagree with that.  I think there is a space for governments in counter-messaging.  I think it's very useful, depending on the target audience, of course, but to have messages coming from governments, especially towards families of people who are getting radicalized to show that they can receive help from public authorities, but it's correct to say that most of the counter-messaging and most of the counter-narratives have to come from the Civil Society, and over the past years, a lot of projects have already been developed by different organizations at different levels.  It's true for international organizations but also for very local organizations.

Some of these initiatives are very broad counter-narratives, initiatives that do not target a specific audience, and then you have much more targeted initiatives towards vulnerable populations, a specific area, specific neighborhood, for instance, and you even have 1:1 attempts to try and disengage people who are already in terrorist groups and who are challenged online by former radicals who try to help them disengage.  For instance, there was a very interesting project launched and led by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London that was based on this 1:1 method, and they hired former far right extremists and former Jihadists to try and challenge actual and current radicals online.

Tech companies are also involved in counter-narrative initiatives, but usually, they do not produce the counter-narrative themself, they help Civil Society produce and boost their own counter-narrative initiatives.  For instance, you may be aware of the redirect method by Google or by the initiatives taken by Facebook to try and boost some of the posts created by NGOs or Civil Society associations.

But I have to say that a few years ago, when you asked the GAFAMs what they were doing against extremism, they always mentioned counter-narratives, and that was not enough, so a lot of pressure was put on these big companies to do more, and especially they were asked to delete more and more content, so they've received really a lot of pressures from different governments and international organizations.  There were laws taken in several countries, for instance in Germany, to try to compel the big companies to do more.  And the fact is that they did more, so now they use new technology, for instance, AI, artificial intelligence, technology to remove automatically hundreds of thousands of contents.  It's true for Twitter and more and more so for Facebook and Google, and it's become harder for terrorists but also for researchers and journalists to find this content online, so in a way, it seems to be pretty efficient.  It's not impossible to find the content, but it's much harder.

To make it clear, I think it's impossible to get rid of extremist content online, but it is possible to make it much harder for extremist organizations to reach a broad audience.

Now I come to my conclusion, and for my conclusion, I have bad news, good news, and a dilemma.  The bad news is that online radicalization is not a myth.  Even though the Internet is often only part of the process, we always have to have a look online but also offline again.  The good news is that several ways have been used and several methods have been used to try and prevent online radicalization, and some of them seem to be quite efficient.  And the dilemma can be summed up by one question, and this question is, how can we find the right balance between safety or security on the one hand and the protection of civil liberties on the other hand?  And I think that UNESCO and this panel is probably the right place to discuss these hard questions.  Thank you. 

(Applause)

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Thank you very much for the good news and also for the bad news and for the dilemma, of course, we're working on these issues.  I must say for quite a long time now.  UNESCO organized the first info ethics Congress dealing with similar issues in 1995.  It was organized in Monaco, and this is to say how challenging is the issue since it is on our table even today.

If you'll allow me, we were planning to have a Q&A session at the end of the presentations, but since Divina is about to leave us, I would like to open the floor for those who would like to address specifically Divina with some questions before she quits the panel, so, please, if you have any questions, now is the time to ask her about what she presented to you. 

Okay.  I see that you have been extremely clear. 

>> There is someone. 

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Please go ahad he.  Please introduce yourself. 

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello, everyone.  My name is Emanuel Ella and I'm an I sock fellow from Brazil.  What I want to ask about this kind of project specifically is how do you do when there is a parallel power that is greatly strong and you have communities that are too difficult to reach because of this (ISOC) because they have something that is working in parallel to the government, for instance, and you can't just enter there, and what do you propose about this?  Thank you. 

>> DIVINA FRAU-MEIGS: That's an interesting question.  I must say, I haven't thought about it that way.  Are you leading to param tory forces or --

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: It can be.  Specifically in the case of Brazil, for instance, we have ima Velas, sometimes we have communities that are really close, and it's difficult for NGOs, so how do you do this job,  how do you talk in a place where you have a parallel power? 

>> DIVINA FRAU-MEIGS: Right.  Well, it happens in many places, so it's true that you have to work with the local people and create an environment of trust.  That's why we often, you know, our sessions when we do training, we do training of trainers, but we use young people who are trained as our ambassadors, and it's a second level, a second tier of training, if you want, that they can go back to their communities and start working with them at that level with young people as ambassadors.  It puts them sometimes in a difficult position, but we also give them tools to go back and forth and to negotiate, and that's where we -- I think that media literacy is a good tool to help you have a dialogue with people who are -- have difficulty with tolerating other discourse, creating tools to counter-argue, to bring other elements.

And -- but not to deny the presence of the other because that's often -- unfortunately, when you go in thinking you are the right response, this is not going to work.  You have to reach a kind of understanding together, and I think strongly we need more and more to engage people, young people themselves in that and to tell the parents, you know, that they're not buying this anymore and that they don't want to stay in that environment, and ICT tools can help there, so -- and it's interesting that you mention the Monaco youth meeting because that was the first time we got young people to speak, and one of the things they were saying, they were saying adults don't listen to us.  They tell us we have a voice, but they don't listen, so what's the point of having a voice if it falls into a void, you know, if there's no response back? 

And I think these kids who are on these parallel sides and often controlled by adults are people whose voice was not listened to, and that's why they disenfranchise, so it's about voice and it's about listening.

Today the Internet is a lot about cutting out and very few people answering back, and I think when you're media literate, you know to do both.  Thank you. 

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Yes, please. 

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello.  My name is (?), I'm legal advisor and content analyst at the French hot line.  We receive reports of terrorist content every day, and I see that the content is radical, as you said.  It can be recruitment tool for terrorists and communication tool for terrorists.

The first category is easy to assess because the content can be very violent, beheadings, war messages, et cetera.

The third category is a bit more complicated to assess because terrorists can use Internet to promote their life.  Many times we see children smiling or participating in an event where they are happy and they play, or it can be even food, what they eat, so what makes it terrorist is the flag, who signs the content, who produces the content.

So my question is, even if we work in the framework of the law and in cooperation with the police, if the definition of "terrorist content" is clear enough -- because from my perspective, sometimes it's not what we see but who signs it.  As a result, what is considered terrorist for France or for Greece, which is my home country, is not terrorist for another country.  Thank you very much. 

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Well, we will just take one more minute -- we lost Divina?  So, okay, Marc, can you go ahead. 

>> MARC HECKER: Thank you.  It's a very good question.  Of course, there's no -- there's no consensual definition of "terrorism."  We've been searching for this definition for years, and as a Swiss caller, Alex Schmidt who analyzed more than 100 definitions of "terrorism" and we tried to produce an academic definition of terrorism, and it's a very long definition, several pages, so perhaps it's not very operational.

You may be aware that Facebook published a definition a few months ago, and it's very short, so it was very surprising to see this definition, and actually, the problem is that it's so broad that you could include almost any group that resorts to violence, so you're right, it's more the group that -- that's important than really the message.

And for most of the platforms used by the big companies, like Facebook, Google, et cetera, even a cookbook produced by ISIS would be something that they wouldn't want on their platform, so I think it's pretty clear for the different states what's legal or not legal, but with regards to the Internet, it's much more complicated, and so the big platforms say, well, we have our own standards and you have to abide by these standards, and if you produce violent content, whether you're a far right activist, left wing activist, an ecologist, an Islamist or whatever, if you produce violent content and you promote hate, then you will not be allowed to be on our platform, whether you produced invalid content or other types of content.  You will not be allowed to have a page, for instance, or group. 

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Thank you.  Now, we move now to our last two speakers.  First will be Ms. Lillian Nalwoga, who will provide action plans in Africa to prevent radicalization.  I want to introduce her briefly.  I like the way it is put in her CV, a technology enthusiast, so welcome to our panel.  We hope you all have in the room technology enthusiast.  She has ten years of developing projects, coordinator for the East Africa and Internet governance forums.  She has been on the Multistakeholder Advisory Group on the global Internet Governance Forum from 2012-2014, and currently she's the president of the Internet Society Uganda chapter and program manager at the Collaboration on Internationaled ICT Policy in Eastern-Southern Africa.  Lillian, it's a pleasure. 

>> LILLIAN NALWOGA: Thank you very much, Boyan.  By the fact that we are all here, I go he is we are all technology enthusiasts.  (I guess)

My intervention is, one, in Africa, we do realize the value that the Internet offers in terms of economic, political benefits, but at the same time, we are seeing a trend of using the Internet and particularly social media as platforms for promoting terrorism through recruiting young people, women and the sorts.

We've seen three main terrorist groups, Al-Shabab, mainly from East Africa, Kenya, Uganda, where -- I'm from Uganda, and we've had terror attacks before, so has Kenya, and we all know what happened in West Africa, what's happening in Nigeria with the Boko Haram, and ISIS having some ties, I think, to Boko Haram.

So what are arrange can governments doing?  At the moment, there really are few countries in Africa which really have national strategies (African) and what is probably happening is there's a current struggle between providing platforms or providing legislations that are promoting responsible use of the Internet, at the same time trying to strike a balance between protecting or upholding freedom of expression, so at the moment, what we have, antiterrorism laws, which do not necessarily provide for online radicalizing all -- handling all online radicalization or fighting terrorism online.

Just so to give -- to give an example is many of the Internet users in Africa and probably the youth are using social media as -- social media platforms as the main tools of engagement, and to many, coming onto the Internet, the first experiencing use of the Internet through social media, so then social media becomes the biggest platform for them to, you know, express their views on the Internet.

The only challenge right now is how to strike a balance through that.  Of course, there are lots of things -- anything that you see probably on social media turns out to be true to many, it may seem true, and what is happening is terrorists or radicalists are using this as a tool to appeal, to get that emotional appeal, to tap into that and be able to, you know, capture this.

In terms of, say, strategies, they are currently, as far as I'm concerned -- there are currently, as far as I'm concerned, three countries that do have strategies on preventing radicalization online, and that is Somalia, Kenya, and Nigeria.  For other countries, Uganda, for instance, Cameroon, Chad what is in place, like I said before, national terrorism laws, and with small country names of criminalizing use of social media for spreading terrorism (Small campaigns of criminalizing)

For Uganda in particular, the antiterrorism law was amended in 2016 to capture for using online platforms to disseminate content that was most terrorism.  Here's -- it is broad, terrorism what is called -- you know, what terrorism or involvement of terrorist activities.  There's a particular clause that has unlawful possession of materials or terrorism, such as audiotapes, and all of that.  The challenge here is how do you define -- defining the definition of "terrorism" in the context of many.  It may be a little bit hard, and I think the lady from -- I don't know -- Brazil or Spain, how do you draw a distinction between that? 

I'll give an example.  Without a clear strategy, then the antiterrorism law that are currently in some of the countries become open to abuse.  In 2016, in my country, we had -- we've had two cases where the antiterrorism law has been used to criminalize and arrest people who are actually expressing themselves legitimate concerns but which concerns all are being seen as government being critical and in this case may lead to, you know, promoting, you know, terrorism and that sort of thing.

A particular case was we had an attack on one of the -- we have so many kingdoms in my country, so in Western uganda, there was a violence that broke out at one of the regional palace, and there was this journalist who had come home visiting, and she filmed this.  When she filmed this, she posted it on a Facebook account, and when the law enforcement saw this, they arrested her and charged her, you know, for terrorism because a what?  She was circulating photos that were promoting, you know, fighting and all that.

To make it interesting is in this particular region, there's been a bit of fighting, so when you get instances like that without clear strategies on how to promote some rights on freedom of expression, recording, and all that vis-a-vis promoting terrorism, so that is one of the other biggest challenges.

And we've also seen in instances where it usually comes to journalists where they are kind of in tight positions where they say if they are filming riots or protests and there is some bit of conflict between a neighboring country -- the most recent case we saw an article that appeared in the papers where these journalists were reporting tensions between Uganda and neighboring Gruanda, and in this case, they were arrested because they were seen to be promoting some sort of radicalization, you know, extremism, promoting hate online that would lead to probably having these sort of conversations.

And we're seeing also issues of, you know, a number of regulations coming up on preventing fighting fake news, hate speech, and that sort of thing, but in the end, when the actual errors that are happening are actually of people who are actually expressing themselves or people who are actually critical of government but then the government is using this as a tool to, you know, further criminalize their free speech. 

So in the absence of actual concrete strategies, how do we go on addressing?  One is there are issues -- there are legitimate concerns that young people are being recruited into, you know, terrorist activities.  Of course, we've seen cases, we've seen so many arrests in Uganda, but also there's that issue of how do you draw that balance between saying that this is legitimate and this is not legitimate? 

So -- and I think we had from Divina the issue of media literacy comes into play, but from my perspective, it's not just for the youth, I think, it's also for the governments to understand how -- one, first importance is to understand the actual benefits or the actual mechanisms that not all speech online is radical speech.  That is one thing.  But also for the youth who are just getting online through social media, how do you then use this as platforms for actual engagement in to actual development or initiatives rather than just clicking on anything that you're seeing.

So from my perspective, this is why I'm saying this is what happening in Africa.  I know I was supposed to talk about current policies and action plans.  They're there.  Just three countries have actual plans on that, and most of them are initial stages in regard to the online activity for preventing radicalization, and I thank you. 

(Applause)

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Thank you very much, Lillian.  It's a serious perspective to reach a situation where all countries are working on it.  The needs are huge, and we have to make sure that awareness is raised because the solution, again, will be political.  The solution will not be technological, obviously, but the political will or will not make things to change in advance.

Our last speaker today will be Mr. Saddem Jebali.  Welcome to the panel, who graduated from the head school of governance in Berlin, and after pursuing public policy master's program, he also worked as a journalist and development consultant on the Middle East and North Africa issues with a special focus on Civil Society government relationship.  Saddem co-founded a think tank and a consultancy firm aiming to develop research and projects into Tunisia, so the floor is yours. 

>> SADDEM JEBALI: Thank you.  So I think it's resuming a bit, and actually, like, I would be giving more perspective from a practicing and from as well the different projects I have been working on countering violent terrorism.  So I'm coming to give a bit more context, so I'm coming from Civil Society.  I have been working in Civil Society before the revolution and after, and I have a different perspective of civil from an NGO than to an international organization and then an international organization working on countering violent extremism and in particular working on alternative narratives development and supporting for NGOs, and at the end as well, I left the international organization and I started working from -- with people that I have been working in the think tank on supporting NGOs and supporting government but being independent, not under the umbrella of an international organization, so I will -- I'm briefly describing this because this is just giving some background for what I will be speaking on in the later stage.

So I'm talking about a contextual situation, which is proper to Tunisia, but this is -- nonetheless can give as well other -- other insights on what's happening in the region or even in the African continent.

So recently, on the fifth point of the Quebec call for action, so the fifth point, which is urging the government to engage and empower youth to lead new digital projects, that was a mutual understanding, I picked a special example of digital platforms that are promoting alternative narratives in Tunisia.  I picked a few of them.  One is called youth more, the other one is called Hiya, and the last one is called AKT because you are Tunisian.  Those three are three concrete case studies of Civil Societyorganizations developing an alternative narrative to countering violent extremism.

I picked three because the three of them, they have strong digital presence, and I have been looking at the three of them, whether from an outsider, as following how those three platforms are completely engaging with young people who are vulnerable to violent extremism or one of those three as well I was contributing and building, so -- and those three experiences compare to the experiences of actual Civil Society engagement to counter violent extremism, for the last -- were lasting for the last three years, and they are still continuing to work now.

So what kind of lessons I wanted to share -- concrete lessons of those three experiences, and as well some sort of recommendation and comments.

So Civil Society organizations, it's like -- there was like on the Civil Society to engage on countering violent extremism because especially in the Tunisian government, especially in countries after a long time of dictatorship, they are not able to have a credible image if they engage on a strategic communication or counter-narrative, so there was a need to go and work rather with Civil Society organizations to develop these alternative narratives, and they were aware that -- as well from the international organization experience, they cannot support direct government intervention because this might look like propaganda, so it was quite a tricky and interesting relationship, and here, speaking about the power balance between the government who is willing to do something because they know that Tunisia is one of the countries that has exported the biggest number of foreign fighters to Syria, and at the same time, vibrant Civil Society that is as well trying to counter-balance the -- and to try to make its place in the country.

So it was interesting to see how those two spheres who were like a bit contradictory trying to come up together, for example, to work on these counter-narrative experiences.

What I have noticed through this is, like, in Tunisia there was the implementation of the counter narrative strategy, so there is a policy, like my colleague was speaking about, Organda, so there is a policy, and then there was an issue to build an alternative narrative platform, so a governmental body that will be trying to develop communication campaigns but with Civil Society organizations, so it was interesting to see that the government is taking a bit step forward -- a big step forward in trying to get into this field, but as well, it's like out of those experiences, there was some clashes between the Civil Society organizations who were not really keen to work with the government; others who were keen to work with the government because there was international funding, just like as well giving them some funding in order to sustain their activities, so it's like all this kind of ecosystem that started to emerge is still interesting to be studied, I think, in the next couple of years we will be able to draw clear reports, so what I will be doing now is -- I wanted to share some of the main challenges and opportunities about those experiences.

So for the challenges, I see it more like from two parts, from the strategic and the operational part.  From the strategic part, it's like -- especially it's the sustain built of such platform -- sustainibilities.  Of such platform.  Those NGOs, strategically speaking, they have Facebook pages and they go up to 300,000 members in those pages, and what they're trying to do is trying to target young people who are vulnerable in different areas in the country, but there is still the problem of sustainability because it's like this kind of hybrid status between an NGO and having only an online presence is not really fitting with the agenda of, like, the different international donors, and as a model, it's not really sustainable, so there is still this big challenge of how such platforms can sustain themselves beyond the agenda of countering narrative, and by countering narrative here, completely speaking, the three of them, they are focusing on alternative narrative pathways, so stories about young people who are from those regions who were able to demonstrate resilience.

So just to pick, so someone who is, like, from one of the neighborhoods where there is the highest -- the highest rate of young people who went to Syria, in Tunisia who became like -- who was practicing boxing and he opened, like, a boxing as well club for the young people from those areas, and he started, like, recruiting as well those young people within -- using sports as a means to empower them.  So it's like promoting such stories is, as well, giving another, like, view about the neighborhood and about the potential of young people there.

Within the challenges, there is a lack of -- as well of systemized approach for multistakeholders' initiatives.  The government and Civil Society, they are trying to work together, but still the media, for example, mainstream media, is a bit marginalized, so it can play a big role in that, in these kind of initiatives because it's not only about the digital space but mainstream media can, as well, play a role to target the wider audience.

The third point on the strategic as well challenges -- challenge is about, like, maybe -- okay, maybe this might not be as clear, but there is -- when working on this, I have seen there is, like, a bit -- I call it the development vs. security mind-set on the question, so you have the development mind-set, which is more about how can we develop things on the (?), and you have the security mind-set, and you would find this especially in the government where it's like what kind of action can we do now to stop violent extremism and to stop the recruitment of terrorists.

So I think this is as well the sort of dilemma that is still present.

On the operational side now for the challenges, I think as well there is a need to monitor the new violent ex eelist groups recruitment because while most of the research are about things that are happening within the last two or three years, things are changing quite fast (Extremist), and there is a need to have, like, monitoring is how is the recruitment made now that, like, how terrorist groups are active now as -- ISIS, like an entity, is almost vanishing from the real sphere.

The other operational part is the high cost of production and distribution of communication materials when it comes to campaigning, and this is not like possible for all NGOs or all actors to -- like to pay these high costs.

And the last point for the operational as well challenges is the high cost of research and difficult access to target audience.  It's good to have the best campaign ever, but if you are doing the best campaign ever for the urban, like, middle -- upper middle-class people, this is useless because this is not reaching because -- so the materials -- maybe it's like the materials should be appealing to the vulnerable youth we are talking about, to those who are pushing and pulling factors of radicalization, and in order to do that, we need to have concrete research and concrete research costs a lot, so I think this is one of the things that as well, if you have a systemized approach of different international actors, the cost can be reduced because each actor will be focusing on an element.

Now I'll move to opportunities, so it's like -- to stop talking about two challenges and a lot of problems.  I think as well, I wanted to share one of the good practices that we had.  It's engaging with the local communities like rappers or local communities like online pages that might not be having 100,000 but having 20,000 or 10,000 followers and being really in that neighborhood, in that localized aspect can have very strong outreach for the authoritative narrowed messaging that is being developed.

The other narrative can as well build quite strong as well engagement is gender-sensitive materials, especially in online spheres.  Especially, we have seen like during the ISIS peak of recruitment, both of the social media interaction or narrative was focused on girls or women.  As well, there is some sort of -- and this was neglected by most of the projects so far while there is, like, an opportunity to engage in that. 

The third point is like -- it's about we need to think -- and I would like to thank as well Divina about this, she mentioned that.  It's about like the next generation, so I think the next generation is -- like we tend to think only about what's the issue now, but if we want to do, like, appropriate counter-narrative for the violent extremism, it needs to be working on the younger generation awareness, and I think this is the only sustainable way to avoid what's happening now, and as well to engage with people and try to have, like, people from those age groups who are part of the -- of the work because it's not about me or it's about someone older than me saying we need to engage with the younger generation, we need to have faces who are representative of that.

The last two points are about -- the opportunities are about engaging the private sector.  The private sector can play a big role when it comes to alternative narrative or counter-narratives because it's like the private sector is where you can find good as well production materials, good production companies, good distribution companies, communication agencies can play a big role in this, and I think engaging in CSR or corporate social responsibilities for those companies in the counter-narrative can be something quite valuable.

I have personally tried to do this, and it worked with an agency in Tunisia where I approached them and, like, I explained the value, the societal value of providing some of the experience and some of the tools that I have to NGOs, and they have made that, and it worked really well.

Now, with this NGO, they are having a partnership, and the NGO was able to leverage funds, so I think NGO and private sector in CSR outscheme can play a big role.

Last thing is changing the mind-set within the government regarding counter-narrative, and rather than counter-narrative, it's more about alternative narratives, and I wanted to share an anecdote about this that I shared with Lillian.  At some meeting with some high security officials from the (?), I was trying to convince him that, like, the new platforms that are trying to build needs to have local people who are some of the local influence rappers, and this -- so he asked about the name, and then he took the name of the rapper, and the first song was about, like, saying, like all cops are bastards and all this kind of stuff.

At first, I was a bit really hesitating that he might not like this, he might say that, no, like, we don't like this kind of profile, and then he said, like, okay, maybe this is more appealing for the audience, it's not about me but it's mainly about the audience to whom he can reach out, so he suspected and embraced more of this.  I'm saying this to say that counter-narrative can be made from the security channels and NGO channels but as well can be made by both, but we need to just give it a try and to push for it, so this is like the conclusion for my intervention.  Thank you. 

(APPLAUSE)

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Before my concluding remarks, I'd like to hear from my audience if there are any -- concluding questions for the panelist?

Okay.  Please go ahead and indicate who are you directing your question

>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My question is for Marc.  I think something important to talk about is the definition of terrorism --

(Switching captioners)

(Switching captioners)

 

>> AUDIENCE:  Okay.  My question is for Marc. 

Marc, I think something important for us to talk about is the definition of terrorism.  In Brazil, they are having a problem there.  They want to include maybe social movements, and they have a historical problem of land distribution.  So we have movements who are doing occupations, occupying abandoned buildings, because they want this right, this right that they have. But then we have politics getting strong, and the possibility of criminalizing these movements and calling it terrorism.  So when we talk about privacy and investigating and data privacy, and in these groups I get scared, and I'd like your personal input about this. 

>> BOYAN RADOYKOV: Before answering, let's just take a few questions and then we can wrap up at the end. 

I see none, so Marc go ahead. 

>> MARC HECKER:  I'm not going to solve the definition.  Scholars and the International community tried to define terrorism, and they never manage to reach a consentual definition.  So it's the role of Civil Society to be careful when developments go too far. 

But my point was about obvious terrorist groups, like ISIS, that until resently were not removed from certain platforms because of freedom of expression and information.  And the platform said well, but we want to allow everyone to have a right to speak.  And, well, I was a bit shocked by that, because I really wondered with the beheadings, people being burned alive, these atrocities, where really an input in some kind of conversation or dialog, I just saw that there are EDOs of these groups, and they shouldn't be countered by counter messaging, but just removed. 

And then the platform decided to move forward and they came up, with Facebook, with this broad definition.  Of course it can be used by authoritarian governments, so we have to be aware of that and to be careful.  And when a Government or platform goes too far, I think here Civil Society has a voice to raise and I think we can have clout in these discussions. 

So...

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much. 

Now, I would like to thank all of our panelists for the extremely interesting presentations.  I think that we had the chance to listen from the perspective of an intergovernmental programme, to the perspective of a policymaker in Africa and also a practitioner in Tunisia, with the very important input by the think tank. 

As you can see, the issue is extremely complex and it cannot be addressed separately.  We have to fight all kinds of abuses on the Internet.  All kinds of issues that are making the Internet and cybersecurity an insecure space especially for young people. 

And I believe that it's time after so many years of discussions to be very practical in the approach and to make sure that we move from the cybernaivety to cybersecurity.  Because this is the only way to progress and ensure that this tool that we are all using all the time is helping us to do so in a reliable manner, and protecting our rights, protecting our privacy, and making sure that this is something that yesterday that President Macron mentioned about regulation.  I don't know whether we will reach regulation quickly, just taking time, we know that it took 8 years to prepare, plan an election for the cyberspace principles and values.  But I think we are on the right track.  We have to continue this work.  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said yesterday, that we have to be a multistakeholder but also a multi-disciplinary.  And this panel is a good example of this. 

So thank you all again, and good luck for the rest of the IGF. 

Thank you.

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