Remarks at the launch of a publication on the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes
October 22, 2012
Before beginning, I would like to thank the Minister of Interior of Austria for kindly hosting the launch of this important UNODC report on the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.
Terrorism represents a serious threat to all countries. It undermines security and public order and threatens democracy, human rights, and social and economic development.
In a globalised world, a terrorist attack has devastating consequences wherever it occurs.
We must, therefore, join forces and work together to counter the threats posed by terrorists. In practice, this means cooperating more closely to prevent, investigate and prosecute terrorist offences.
Terrorists must be efficiently sanctioned and denied access to safe havens which offer impunity.
Terrorism is a complex and constantly evolving phenomenon. Potential terrorists use advanced communications technology often involving the Internet to reach a worldwide audience with relative anonymity and at a low cost.
Just as Internet use among citizens has increased in the past few years, terrorist organizations also make extensive use of this indispensable global network for many different purposes.
For example, they may spread propaganda, glorify extremist ideologies, and promote violence. They may also recruit, radicalize and incite individuals to commit terrorist acts by sharing operational instructions and practical guides.
Potential terrorists also use the Internet for fundraising and for planning purposes.
Investigating and prosecuting offences where Internet use is involved requires specific technical knowledge and enhanced cooperation at the international level. The Internet neither knows nor respects international borders.
Prosecution, in particular, is challenging. There is a need for considerable care in the collection and preservation of digital evidence to ensure the success of prosecutions and the admissibility of evidence in court proceedings.
Under the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006, countries committed to cooperating with the UN to counter terrorism in all its forms and manifestations on the Internet.
They also pledged to make efforts to halt the use of the Internet as a tool to counter the spread of terrorism.
UNODC is mandated to provide technical assistance to Member States to achieve this. We work to strengthen the capacity of countries' criminal justice systems to prevent and counter the commission of terrorist acts.
The General Assembly requested UNODC to develop specialized legal knowledge in the area of counter-terrorism and to provide assistance with regard to criminal justice responses to terrorism. Where appropriate, this includes the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.
As a response to this request, and through the generous contribution of the United Kingdom, UNODC has developed the publication we are launching today to address the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.
The publication has been developed in cooperation with the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force working group on the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.
With this tool, we aim to provide practical guidance for the investigation and prosecution of cases where the Internet is used for terrorism.
It addresses the following four concerns:
First, national legislation must provide for the criminalization of terrorist offences for states to be able to prosecute and sanction terrorists. It must do so while guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms, within the framework of the rule of law.
Second, national laws must provide investigators and prosecutors with the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute terrorist offences on the Internet.
Being able to use special investigative techniques is vital in this regard. Such techniques include: intercepting Internet phone calls, using keyloggers or sophisticated decryption software, and infiltrating password-protected online chat rooms.
Third, cooperation between criminal justice systems and the private sector must be further enhanced. This is particularly important in relation to the right to privacy, and the collection and use of personal data.
Finally, international cooperation is critical to many terrorism-related investigations and prosecutions; particularly where the preservation and retention of internet-related data takes place in several jurisdictions. Any delays or difficulties risk hindering the effectiveness of the criminal justice response to terrorist threats.
Failing to adequately respond in a timely manner may also put national and international security at risk.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
By developing this tool, UNODC seeks to contribute to international efforts to prevent the misuse of the Internet for terrorist activities.
In doing so, we are addressing the threats that undermine our global security and well-being.