Ensuring an ethical approach to detecting terrorist-related online content and financing activities

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Dr Hayley Watson | Director, Sociotech Innovation

Date: 7 December 2017

As part of the DANTE project, Trilateral is collaborating with other partners to disrupt radicalisation and propaganda on the web.  DANTE (Detecting and analysing terrorist-related online contents and financing activities) consists of a multi-disciplinary endeavour to improve intelligence processes in countering terrorism. Dante-logo

The project aims to deliver more effective, efficient, automated data mining and analytics solutions and an integrated system to detect, retrieve, collect and analyse huge amount of heterogeneous and complex multimedia and multi-language terrorist-related contents.

New technological solutions will monitor both the Surface and the Deep Web, including Dark nets to detect potential terrorist-related activities and people, with a special focus on online fundraising activities.

Alongside other research and development focuses, the development of software for disruption purposes has numerous ethical and legal constraints. Here, we provide a brief snapshot of some of the key (early) ethical considerations arising within this context.

  • What measures are in place to ensure that the tools developed are not abused by those in power?
  • How is the web treated in terms of a ‘research space’ – is the web to be interpreted as a space for interaction between people or a textual repository? How is informed consent managed?
  • What are the legal, ethical and social implications of monitoring, especially with respect to the rights to privacy and data protection.

 As the project is still in its infancy, work around ethical and legal considerations, including internal discussions and adjustments to the system continue.

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