New technology revealed by Home Office to help combat terrorist content online

The Home Office has announced the development of new technology to automatically detect terrorist content on any online platforms. Tests have shown that this new tool can automatically detect 94% of Daesh propaganda with 99.995% accuracy. It boasts “an extremely high degree of accuracy”. For instance, if it analyses one million randomly selected videos, only 50 would require additional human review. The tool can be used by any platform and integrated into the upload process so that the majority of video propaganda is stopped before it ever reaches the Internet.

Developed by the Home Office and ASI Data Science, the technology uses advanced machine learning to analyse the audio and visuals of a video to determine whether it could be Daesh propaganda. The Home Office and ASI Data Science will be sharing the methodology behind the new model with smaller companies in order to help combat the abuse of their platforms by terrorists and their supporters.

Many of the major tech companies have developed technology specific to their own platforms and publicly reported on the difference this is making in their fight against terrorist content. Smaller platforms, however, are increasingly targeted by Daesh and its supporters and often don’t have the same level of resources to develop such technology.

The model, which has been tested using over 1,000 Daesh videos, isn’t specific to one platform so can be used to support the detection of terrorist propaganda across a range of video streaming and download sites in real-time.

Welcoming the new technology, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Over the last year we have been engaging with Internet companies to make sure that their platforms are not being abused by terrorists and their supporters. I have been impressed with their work so far following the launch of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, although there’s still more to do. I do hope this new technology which the Home Office has helped to develop can support others to go further and faster.”

Rudd continued: “The purpose of propaganda videos is to incite violence in our communities, recruit people to the terrorists’ cause and attempt to spread fear in our society. We know that automatic technology like this can heavily disrupt the terrorists’ actions, as well as prevent people from ever being exposed to these horrific images. This Government has been taking the lead worldwide in making sure that vile terrorist content is stamped out.”

Separately, new Home Office analysis demonstrates that Daesh supporters used more than 400 unique online platforms to push out their poisonous material in 2017, highlighting the importance of technology that can be applied across different platforms. Previous research has found the majority of links to Daesh propaganda are disseminated within two hours of release, while a third of all links are disseminated within the first hour.

The new research also shows that, from July until the end of the year, 145 new platforms hadn’t been used before.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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