Counter terrorism considerations for Startups

Sounds crazy right; a startup worrying about counter terrorism. They’ve just designed, built and launched a hot new product and as well as worrying about growth hacking, attracting investors and getting good press they’ve got to care about preventing terrorists from using their app / social media platform / messaging service. 

Well, yes they do. Or rather they might. 

The Rebel Futures team has been chatting to the people at ICT4Peace a Swiss Non Government Organisation with a remit to prevent the use of technology in terrorism (amongst other things) and is helping them to reach out to startups to help them consider the issue.  The extremely interesting and emotive issue sparks debate and is a broad and politically charged topic in its own right. The ICT4Peace Foundation is soon launching Tech Against Terrorism an initiative to help startups to explore and discuss the issues, and also to network with and learn from some of the tech giants create policy for content, community guidelines and so on. 

How might tech startups with content platforms consider the issue of preventing the use of their platforms for terrorist purposes?

  • In defining content policy and community guidelines
  • In defining how users can report content they feel does not conform to guidelines
  • In being clear with users about how content is reviewed if reported and the course of action and timeline
  • In understanding how law enforcement agencies might request content takedowns and ensuring they are able to action requests
  • In ensuring, if they have defined and can support their own policy (and have sought legal advice from good tech lawyers)

Of course the debate around the content moderation issue is huge; some believe that removing extremist content does not help, and actually focus should be given to creating counter propaganda instead.

How might tech startups with encryptIon capabilities consider counter terrorism initiatives and issues?

  • In understanding their own legal position and in defining a policy for communicating with / complying with law enforcement agency requests for information
  • In defining clear user guidelines about how they might comply with law enforcement agency requests
  • Additionally, offering user guidance on encryption / what it can and cannot see
  • Having an awareness of the broader landscape of debate around encryption technologies
  • Having an awareness of evolving legal issues around encryption and legislation 

Whilst encryption may be viewed as a fundamental right and the only way to protect ‘the rest of us’,  pressure from Governments means that tech companies are getting more embroiled in arguing the case for encryption. To many it is vital to to stand up for this right before legislation is used to enforce a different view.

If you are a startup and are interested in participating in a London based meeting or have a story to tell about your startup / technology / app from being used in a way you didn’t envisage, or you want to share your views on protecting the rights of tech businesses please get in touch