VOX-Pol Newsletter 2(4) November 2015

Welcome to Vol. 2, Iss. 4 of the VOX-Pol Newsletter.

VOX-Pol is happy to announce the publication of its first research report earlier this month, which measures online behaviours of convicted UK terrorists. We will release another report on 23 November examining the political, legal, and ethical constraints of policing the Internet for violent extremist content.

If you have colleagues or friends who may be interested in the content of this newsletter or any events and research carried out by VOX-Pol, please encourage them to subscribe via our website. Follow us on Twitter @VOX_Pol for live updates, releases, and live streaming of Lunchtime Briefing Sessions.
Yours sincerely,

The VOX-Pol Team

VOX-POL RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

WHAT ARE THE ROLES OF THE INTERNET IN TERRORISM? 

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VOX-Pol launched its first report ‘What are the Roles of the Internet in Terrorism? Measuring Online Behaviours of Convicted UK Terrorists’, on 4 November. Based upon recent VOX-Pol funded research, this work is co-authored by Paul Gill, Emily Corner, Amy Thornton, and Maura Conway. Using a unique dataset of 227 convicted UK-based terrorists, this report fills a large gap in the existing literature. Using descriptive statistics, the research first outlines the degree to which various online activities related to radicalisation were present within the sample. The results illustrate the variance in behaviours often attributed to ‘online radicalisation’. Second, the research conducted a smallest-space analysis to illustrate two clusters of commonly co-occurring behaviours that delineate behaviours from those directly associated with attack planning. Third, the report conducted a series of bivariate and multivariate analyses to question whether those who interact virtually with like-minded individuals or learn online, exhibit markedly different experiences (e.g. radicalisation, event preparation, attack outcomes) than those who do not.

 

 

ONGOING EVENTS

VOX-POL LUNCH BRIEFING SERIES

A series of free-to-attend VOX-Pol Lunchtime Briefings, each exploring a different aspect of Violent Online Political Extremism, are ongoing at King’s College London. All seminars will be also be streamed live via Periscope on our Twitter account @VOX_Pol. VOX-Pol’s Online Library will be launched at the final seminar. To register for any of the briefings, please contact lunchbriefingseries@voxpol.eu

Seminar 2: Gender, Twitter, and ISIS supporters
Wednesday November 11th, 1315 – 1430
Pyramid Room, 4th Floor, King’s College London, Strand Campus

RUSI Associate Fellow and King’s College researcher Elizabeth Pearson explores the role of gender and women in ‘Wilayat Twitter’, the online community of IS Twitter followers.

For further details, see here.
Seminar 3: Extreme Right Groups and the Internet
Wednesday November 18th , 1315 – 1430
War Studies Meeting Room, 6th Floor, King’s College London, Strand Campus

Manuela Caiani, an associate professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Florence, explores how right-wing extremist organisations use the Internet as a tool for communication, recruitment, and to build identity.

For further details, see here.

Seminar 4: The Ethics and Politics of Policing the Internet for Violent Extremist Content
Wednesday November 25th, 1315 – 1430
War Studies Meeting Room, 6th Floor, King’s College London, Strand Campus

Josh Cowls, a Doctoral Researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), discusses the political, legal, and ethical constraints facing those tasked (e.g. law enforcement, Internet companies) with ‘policing’ the Internet for violent extremist content.

For further details, see here.

Seminar 5: Online Environments and the Violent Jihad
Wednesday December 2nd, 1315 – 1430
War Studies Meeting Room, 6th Floor, King’s College London, Strand Campus

VOX-Pol Research Fellow Nico Prucha talks about violent jihadi movements,’ including IS’ social media strategies.

For further details, see here.

Seminar 6: Is Violent Online Radicalisation Really Occurring? And, If So, How?
Tuesday December 8th 1230-1400 (Please note the change of day, location and time for this event)
Houses of Parliament Westminster (Precise venue to be confirmed at a later date)

Maura Conway, VOX-Pol Coordinator and Senior Lecturer, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, discusses how we could determine if violent online radicalisation is really occurring and, if so, how it may work.

For further details, see here.

RECENT EVENTS

It has been a busy quarter for VOX-Pol, having contributed to more than a dozen events related to violent online political extremism, in various cities across Europe.

In August, VOX-Pol’s Dr. Maura Conway delivered a keynote address entitled ‘IS, Social Media, and Crowdsourced Jihad’ at FOSINT, which was co-located with ASONAM 2015 at Telecom-ParisTech in Paris, France. For more information, see here.

In September, VOX-Pol Research Fellow Dr. Nico Prucha presented a talk on “Online Media and Online Extremism: The Case of Sunni Extremists and Media Strategies” for a workshop entitled “Violent Extremism in the Western Balkans” that took place in Belgrade, Serbia. For more, click here. Also in September, VOX-Pol Programme Manager and Research Fellow, Lisa McInerney, participated in CYBERSEC, the European Cybersecurity Forum in Krakow, Poland. More details can be found here.

October was an especially busy month for VOX-Pol members as they attended several high-level workshops and conferences.Dr. Kate Coyer, the Director of the Civil Society and Technology Project of the Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University (CEU), Budapest, Hungary participated in the ‘Media Freedom and Responsibilities in the Context of Counter-Terrorism Policies’ workshop organised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Bucharest, Romania. See here for more details. In a separate event, Dr. Coyer also participated in a closed roundtable discussion, Extremist content on the Internet: Towards proportionate government policies and corporate responses’, organised by the Global Network Initiative and the Center for Democracy and Technology. This invitation-only gathering took place under Chatham House Rules and a summary report will be forthcoming.

Also in October, Dr. Nico Prucha participated in an EU discussion in Brussels on issues of online extremism, recruitment, and media strategies. In his talk entitled the ‘Severity and Resilience of the Threat’, he outlined the flow of extremist data and content analysis thereof.

VOX-Pol was also represented by our Coordinator, Dr. Maura Conway (DCU), at Club De Madrid’s global policy dialogue ‘Madrid +10: Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism which took place in Madrid, Spain, from 27 – 28 October, 2015. Dr. Conway contributed to the online radicalisation workshop where she appeared on a panel dedicated to online counter speech. For more details on the event, see here.

VOX-POL’S INAUGURAL TRAINING ACADEMY

VOX-Pol’s inaugural week-long Training Academy took place in Valencia, Spain from Monday, 21 September 2015 to Friday, 25 September 2015. The event was designed to provide policymakers, law enforcement, social media companies, and others professionally tasked with responding to violent online extremism and terrorism with an introduction to the role of the Internet in contemporary violent political extremism(s).

Topics addressed included the online strategies of violent jihadis and the extreme right; the role of the Internet in lone actor terrorism; the online behaviours of convicted terrorists; the gender dimensions of violent online extremism; and online CVE (Countering Violent Extremism); amongst other topics. The Academy attracted 24 participants from 8 countries, and was composed of a mix of formal lectures, breakout/discussion sessions, and hands-on labs. The latter were dedicated to providing participants with an overview of tools and methods for research and analysis in this domain.

 

VOX-POL’S RESEARCHER MOBILITY PROGRAMME

Agnieska Konkel joined the Center for Media, Data and Society on the 20th of October for a short VOX-Pol funded research visit during which she will explore EU policy responses to online radicalisation and violent extremism. Agnieszka works for the European Parliament (Committee for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection), where she is responsible for negotiations on cyber security, telecommunications, data protection, and the Digital Single Market generally.

The new VOX-Pol Research Fellow, Dr. Matti Pohjonen, joined the IFSH at the start of November 2015. His research will focus on different kinds of conflict mediation mechanisms through which social media communities across the world try to counter and mitigate hate speech and violent political extremism online. He will be based for six months at IFSH developing the conceptual framework for the research, and six months at UvA developing methods of data analysis. Prior to joining the IFSH as a VOX-Pol Fellow, Matti worked on a project mapping online political discussions in Ethiopia for the Programme on Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCLMP) at the University of Oxford, and was a Senior Teaching Fellow in Digital Culture at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Opportunities for research visits under VOX-Pol’s Researcher Mobility Programme are open all year round. For details of this and other opportunities with VOX-Pol, visit our website and/or contact us at: rmp@voxpol.eu.

PARTNER PUBLICATIONS

A special issue of the journal Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict: Pathways towards terrorism and genocide (Volume 8, Issue 2) was published in September. The volume ‘Computer-Assisted Terrorism’ includes articles contributed by our partner institutions. UCL’s Max Taylor authored an article ‘Criminogenic qualities of the internet’, analyzing the relationship between Internet use and terrorism. In another article entitled “Online terrorism and online laws”, Prof. Clive Walker (University of Leeds) and Dr. Maura Conway (Dublin City University) examine the responses to extremist uses of the Internet, with an emphasis on legal responses. For journal access, click here.