How is the relationship between radicalization, terrorism and internet content framed? This chapter analyzes the discursive practices underlying Europol’s Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU), a body that makes recommendations to internet industry players for takedown of online content, with the aim of understanding the (in)security dynamics of online (counter-) radicalization and assessing the related human rights issues. Attempts to police online content for counter-radicalization purposes are always framed by sense-making practices. This chapter therefore tries to better understand the meaning of (counter-)radicalization as it is used by professionals working in the field. The European Police Office (Europol) is one of the transnational security actors heavily involved in the changing field of security, both as a driver and a symbol of a changing security landscape. The EU IRU embodies an interface between public and private content regulation, with thus far unclear ramifications for freedom of expression on the internet. The analysis shows that the black-box-like character of the platforms’ removal processes is strategically used to secretly leverage filtering practices. Practitioners are aware that many takedown measures only treat symptoms, not causes, of terrorism and extremism. Technology alone does not cause and will not solve the radicalization challenge. Other, more creative ways of perceiving and conceptualizing online radicalization and online extremism are necessary to design evidence-based policies that work for all.
Ben Wagner, Matthias C. Kettemann and Kilian Vieth
In a digitally connected world, the question of how to respect, protect and implement human rights has become unavoidable. As ever more human beings, organizational systems and technical devices transition online, realizing human rights in online settings is becoming ever more pressing. When looking at basic human rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, free assembly or the right to a fair trial, all of these are heavily impacted by new information and communications technologies. While there have been many long-standing debates about the management of key Internet resources and the legitimacy of rules applicable to the Internet – from legal norms to soft law, from standards to code – it is only more recently that these debates have been explicitly framed in terms of human rights. The scholarly field that has grown in response to these debates is highly interdisciplinary and draws from law, political science, international relations, geography and even computer science and science and technology studies (STS). In order to do justice to the interdisciplinary nature of the field, this Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology: Global Politics, Law and International Relations unites carefully selected and reviewed contributions from scholars and practitioners, representing key research and practice fields relevant for understanding human rights challenges in times of digital technology.