Business Technology

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Free tech on offer to block out extremist messages

Stock photo
Stock photo

Declan Power

New technology has been created that will allow governments across Europe to track and block extremist internet content.

The technology has been developed by an NGO (non-governmental organisation) and is being offered for free. However, no private sector technology company has yet taken up the offer to use it on its social media platforms to prevent extremists from spreading their message.

Former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton briefed a select international group of counter-terror experts on how the new software can stop extremists using the internet to spread hate messages and recruit, but is widely being ignored by tech companies.

Ms Creighton was speaking at the Countering Violent Extremism conference in London last week. She has joined the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a new international not-for-profit NGO created to help governments and the tech community combat the growing levels of extremist activity taking place on social media.

Ms Creighton told the conference how CEP had developed technology to help counter extremism and was offering it free of charge.

The technology is able to limit terror groups' abilities to raise funding.

Chief among these is a concept called eGlyph, developed by Professor Hany Farid of Dartmouth College in the US.

Ms Creighton explained eGlyph is an algorithm technology based on the digital signature or 'hash' that any uploaded content to websites contains.

The eGlyph technology can track and mark uploads judged to contain extremist content, be it imagery, verbal or written content. Once the content's 'hash' or digital signature has been recognised and marked, it is virtually impossible for the content to get re-uploaded to any other web platform.

Ms Creighton explained the technological advance had come at a time when the international community was grappling with how to deny extremist groups such as Isil and many other smaller organisations access to the internet to radicalise new generations of recruits.

However, she said that in the case of eGlyph, while a number of government agencies are trialling the technology, no private sector technology companies had taken up the offer of the free software to use on their social media platforms and so prevent free and easy access by extremist groups of any description to influence, recruit and spread their message.

Irish Independent

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