Conference urges int'l action against cyber-terrorism
That the international community must cooperate to fight online terrorism and maintain peace and stability, is consensus of the World Internet Conference that closed on Friday.
China has been a major victim of terrorism in recent years, said Gu Jianguo, head of the cyber security and protection bureau under the Ministry of Public Security. The Internet is an important tool for groups to plan and organize acts of terror and incite followers.
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has claimed responsibility for a series of incidents featuring knife attacks in Kunming, a bombing in Urumqi and a car plowing through a crowd in Beijing and threatened to continue their campaign in an online video clip.
Since 2010, ETIM has released almost 300 videos inciting people to participate in their terror campaign. The videos show bomb-making techniques and spread religious extremism.
"Terrorists have their own websites and propaganda platforms on other major portals. They take advantage of social network sites to promote terrorism,"said Gu, claiming it is easy access to terrorist videos and learn how to make bombs on video sharing websites.
Such freewheeling activities have severely undermined world peace and stability and damaged lives and property, said Gu.
"The Internet gives them a global presence that they did not have before," said James Andrew Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in the United States.
"First of all they use it for propaganda to disseminate Jihad ideology. Besides that they share information and technology that allow them to make bombs, to recruit people in the west and in Xinjiang," said Michael Barak of Israel's international institute for counter-terrorism.
"They are very active on social media and every terror organization has their own media outlet and twitter accounts. Jihad magazines are in English," he said.
Barak believes terrorist even use online payment systems similar to bitcoin to raise money.
No country can manage the threat of cyber-terrorism alone, but at present, there is no international legal framework to deal with cyber-terrorism, said Cheng Lin, president of the People's Public Security University of China.
"Worse yet, there is neither an effective coordination mechanism nor a top-level design bringing together different countries,"said Cheng.
"International cooperation is very important: monitoring all the websites, everything they run, and recruitment analysis," said Barak.
Gu suggested the international community reach a consensus on the definition of cyber-terrorism, which he said should include all kinds of online activities promoting and inciting terrorism.
"The answer is that maybe not to focus on the symptoms but on the disease, propaganda and fund-raising are the symptoms, the disease is terrorism, that's where we need to cooperate," said Lewis.
Gu revealed that there has been a sharp decline of criminal prosecutions for materials promoting terrorism since the beginning of the year when China tightened up scrutiny and penalties.
"Those who produce and disseminate terrorist materials are based outside China, so we need international cooperation to address the 'cancer' of the Internet," said Gu.