Terrorism, the Internet and Human Rights - Preventing Misuse of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes

8 November 2012 - A Open Forum on Human Rights in Baku, Azerbaijan


The use of the Internet by terrorists as a tool for supporting or perpetrating their activities, and the potential for cyber-attacks by terrorists against critical infrastructure, are among the primary challenges countries may face in terms of the misuse of the Internet, and increasingly cannot be separated from terrorist activities otherwise. Terrorist groups and supporters can take advantage of the anonymity and wide reach of the Internet to exploit it for these purposes, a fact which has also complicated governments’ ability to track and stop terrorist activities online, while at the same time upholding the fundamental principles of human rights, such as freedom of expression.

The use of the Internet for terrorist purposes is one of the priority focus areas of the Council of Europe and the Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER: http://www.coe.int/terrorism) has been surveying the situation in member states to evaluate whether existing international instruments are sufficient to respond to this emerging threat. As a result of this work, it adopted an expert opinion in 2007 and set up a database on the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes (http://www.coe.int/t/dlapil/codexter/cyberterrorism_db.asp).

The participants of this Open Forum are invited to discuss the Internet as a tool to support terrorism and ways and means to counter the use of the Internet by terrorists, while respecting and protecting fundamental human rights. Specific attention will be paid to existing international conventions and other instruments that promote the harmonization of national substantive and procedural law, international co-operation on the issue of the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes, as well as national best practices in this respect.
Discussions will focus on the following three areas:

Terrorist organisations’ presence on the Internet and use of the Internet for various purposes, including:
the dissemination of propaganda related to ideology and activities;
as a means of promoting radicalization within target communities;
the use the Internet for recruitment and training purposes;
as a tool for all aspects of financing terrorist activities.

The Council of Europe approach to countering the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes – a comprehensive solution?

Ways and means to ensure protection of fundamental human rights, such as freedom of expression, on the Internet in the context of the fight against terrorism.