22/01/2018 - 23/01/2018
On 22 – 23 January 2018, VOX-Pol convened a two-day workshop on ‘Similarities and Differences Between Online Terrorism and Online Child Sexual Abuse and Their Implications’ at Dublin City University.
The purpose of the workshop was to explore the similarities and differences between online extremism and terrorism and online child sex abuse and their implications. The yoking together by politicians and the media of violent extremism and/or terrorism and the Internet with online child sex abuse/exploitation is oftentimes a fairly cynical attempt at portraying the Internet as largely inhabited by ‘bad,’ even ‘evil,’ people. Many politicians, policy makers, and commentators continue to use the language of “terrorists and paedophiles” to seek to sell various policy responses and items of legislation to publics. However, while there are good reasons to seek to avoid such reductive approaches, there are also numerous ways in which online violent extremis and/or terrorism activity and online child sexual abuse appear to overlap, including in numerous practical ways having to do with their shared reliance on Internet technologies, law enforcement responses, preventative measures, etc.
The main topics of discussion for this workshop included:
- Terminology and definitional issues;
- Identification of the broad similarities and differences between online terrorism and online child sex abuse; and
- The major points of potential cross-over, specifically the concept of ‘online grooming,’ law enforcement methods and tools, detection and takedown activity, prevention strategies, emerging and future trends, and ethical issues.
In addition to scholars, the workshop was attended representatives from social media companies, law enforcement agencies, and the NGO sector. A report containing the workshop findings is forthcoming.