Google wants to keep the Islamic State (Isis) off the internet so the terrorist organization does not have a means for recruiting. The director of Google Ideas, Jared Cohen, seeks to “recapture digital territory” from extremist groups such as Isis.
The techniques described by Cohen understate Google’s concern over Isis’ recruiting techniques. Reports in 2015 of western girls joining Isis shocked readers. Just yesterday, The Independent released a report detailing how Isis recruits young westerners revolving around recruitment techniques.
While giving a speech on Waging a Digital Counterinsurgency at Chatham House, Cohen stated extremists must face consequences when they’re discovered promoting violent causes on the web, such as having accounts shut down.
“What is new is that they’re operating without being pushed back in the same internet we all enjoyed,” Cohen said.
So success looks like Isis being contained to the dark web.
The mission of Google Ideas reads as follows: “Google Ideas builds products to support free expression and access to information for people who need it most.”
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Cohen heads a Google project thought to develop products to fight oppression, Wired reported. Google also plans to develop tools to better identify and remove Isis social media accounts.
The UK government is on board, looking to work with leading tech firms to ensure that online terrorism is undermined. The UK’s internet counter-terrorism unit claims to have removed more than 1,000 illegal, terrorism-related content from the internet on a weekly basis. The unit, formed in 2010, has reportedly taken down more than 100,000 sites and accounts related to terrorism.
Google joins not only the UK government, but others as well, in the online campaign against ISIS. After terrorist attacks in Paris shook the world, Anonymous declared a “cyber-assault” against Isis.
At the time, Hacked spoke with the Ghost Security Group, who told us:
I cannot speak for other groups or organizations combatting ISIS. However, I can inform you that we are coordinating our efforts with the United States government to detect attacks before they happen, as well as slow [IS] recruiting, destroy online propaganda and reduce the number of enemy combatants on the battlefield and to date have met with great success.
While hacktivist groups like Ghost Security Group do not have the capability nation-states have in the fight against terrorism, a company like Google does, and could prove a decisive foe in the online battle with ISIS.
Further, the techniques of a Google compared to those of Ghost Security Group or other hacktivist groups would likely be completely different. For instance, whereas Anonymous type groups are likely to engage in hacking, Google could quasi-police the internet, considering the metadata and web analytics the firm holds as proprietary information.
Although Google has not mentioned it would be so aggressive in its attempts to stamp out Isis from the internet, some of the Google products that could help Google in its campaign against Isis are: Drive, Voice, Hangouts, Google News, Groups, + and others.
However, some experts claim Google’s techniques might not make sense. The notion of keeping Isis off the clear net – where they can be tracked – is flawed. Once on the darknet, perhaps more resources will need to be deployed in order to track ISIS actions.
On the other hand, the concern here seems to merely be the power of Isis recruitment. There have already been numerous westerners recruited by the likes of Isis, and Google could see their moves as simply aiding in the propaganda or information battle against the Islamic State.
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