A dedicated Garda internet unit would allow it to refer greater volumes of takedown requests to companies concerning online terrorist material, according to the EU’s counter-terrorism chief.
Gilles de Kerchove said such units need to be staffed with specially trained experts in order to be able to convince internet companies to remove content they believe to be illegal.
In a wide-ranging address in Dublin, the EU’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator said:
Mr de Kerchove’s address, at the Institute of International and European Affairs, was attended by acting Garda commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, assistant commissioner of security and intelligence Michael O’Sullivan, Defence Forces’ assistant chief of staff Brigadier General Peter O’Hanlon; and Department of Justice acting secretary general Oonagh McPhillips, as well as embassy representatives.
Speaking to the media after his address, the counter-terror chief said internet companies voluntarily agree to remove material that is flagged to them by agencies.
He said crucial to this is having the expertise to establish if the content is unlawful, meaning not consistent with terms of conditions of usage as defined by them, not by governments.
“Flagging to internet companies what we believe to be unlawful, we believe having people trained to distinguish between unlawful and distasteful content is much more effective,” said Mr de Kerchove.
He said when Europol’s Internet Referral Unit was set up, Google said 93% of content referred to it by Scotland Yard IRU was taken down, but only 33% of referrals from other people was.
“Why the difference? Because Scotland Yard unit is composed of well-trained people who can distinguish between unlawful and distasteful — we have to accept distasteful.
Mr de Kerchove referred to the “digitisation of security” and that most information wanted by security services and police is connected to the internet and the private sector.
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