The British government today called for a global partnership to counter online radicalization and extremism.
“As long as violent extremist groups seek to undermine the very ideals and values that the internet was established to advance, we must reinforce its capacity to be the answer to hatred and intolerance, rather than the vehicle for it,” said Baroness Joanna Shields, the UK Minister for Internet Safety and Security. “We must understand the influence of terror groups online and deploy the use of strong data analytics to recognise how terrorists amplify their messages and to decipher the patterns of their deadly actions.”
The tech companies Google, Facebook and Twitter have agreed to look at “options” for a body “to accelerate” how they take down extremist content.
They also pledged to “support the efforts of civil society organisations to promote alternative and counter-narratives” against extremism online.
The symbolism of the recent terrorist attack on London is clear. As British Prime Minister Theresa May remarked, “These streets of Westminster—home to the world’s oldest Parliament—are engrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe,” note Kelly Ayotte and Frank J. Fahrenkopf, board members of the International Republican Institute.
Thirty-five years ago, it was in this same historic location that President Reagan issued a challenge to the world’s democracies to launch an active campaign to support the growth of democracy around the world. Reagan’s vision wasn’t merely idealistic. He recognized that America and the West’s chief geopolitical foe—the Soviet Union—could only be defeated by nurturing not just US military and economic preeminence, but also the superiority of our system of government and core values, they write for World Affairs:
This wasn’t mere rhetoric. Reagan initiated a strategy that included support for free press, unions, political parties and educational institutions around the world to act as a firewall against communist subversion and interference. Congress established the National Endowment for Democracy and its subsidiary institutes (including the International Republican Institute, of which we are board members) to train activists seeking democratic reform in the basics of democratic governance. Radio Free Europe reached millions behind the Iron Curtain thanks to American funding, and even the distribution of underground dissident literature known as samizdat received support from the United States.
“As with the Cold War, the current terrorist enemy cannot be vanquished by military might alone—though that is of course a crucial tool,” they add. “We must also offer a powerful and positive alternative to the bleak way of life offered by extremists like the Islamic State; and must shore up global stability to resist their onslaught. One of the most effective ways to do this is by actively promoting democracy.”