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EU backs need to remove terrorist content online

The European Council has approved two sets of conclusions on the impact of the pandemic, one on internal security and a second on the threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism.

So far the impact of the pandemic on the terrorist threat seems to have been limited. However, the protracted pandemic may increase member states’ vulnerabilities and the risks of radicalisation. The council recognises that the online presence of extremist groups is on the rise since the outbreak of the pandemic, and, due to coronavirus, counter terrorism authorities have had to increasingly rely on online capabilities rendering/making their work more difficult.

In the medium to long term, the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences may prove to be a favourable breeding ground for extremist narratives. Some (violent) far-left, far-right and Islamist extremist groups have already incorporated coronavirus into their narratives, and this might pose security challenges in the medium and long term.

The European Council conclusions therefore calls on member states to continuously contribute to the assessment of the online dimension of the terrorist threat by providing information to the relevant EU bodies. As such, INTCEN (EU Intelligence and Situation Centre) and Europol should continue to deepen their assessment of the impact of the pandemic on terrorist operations.

The council also: invites member states to swiftly give effect to the regulation on terrorist content online, and the Commission and EU internet referral unit to provide support with their technical and operational expertise; underlines the influence of algorithms and their role in fostering radicalisation as another key point that deserves attention; and notes the need to pay increased attention to emerging security risks, as well as opportunities, stemming from new technologies and underline the role of the EU innovation hub.

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