Measures to prevent the spread of violent material on the Net across the EU?

The IIEA and the European Commission have just signed a contract to begin a study on non-legislative measures that might prevent the spread of violent radical content on the Internet. Our job is to examine the measures currently in practice, determine whether any are appropriate and functional, and whether these would work if applied across the EU. Press release below…

IIEA to study Internet regulation and terrorist propaganda


4 November 2009 – Immediate Release (see release on IIEA site

Experts to advise the European Commission on new approaches to the Internet and terrorism

Dublin will be a leading centre for digital research, thanks to a new project announced today.

Competing against 11 candidates from across the EU, including many large consultancies, the Dublin-based Institute of International and European Affairs has won a contract to produce cutting-edge research on the future of the Internet.

The IIEA will be cooperating with Europol, the European Police Agency, INACH, the International Network Against CyberHate, EuroISPA, the European Association of Internet Service Providers, and INHOPE, the International Association of Internet Hotlines.

The IIEA will examine the current initiatives against child abuse content used in different countries across the EU and will advise the European Commission on whether any are appropriate in the Commission’s EU-wide fight against terrorism and violent radicalisation.

In 2008, IIEA research was the most cited source in a European Commission study that recommended against an EU-wide censorship system to fight radicalisation.

Experts in online violence and Internet governance will work on the project which will report to the Commission in autumn 2010. Among them, Gilbert Ramsay, the author of the United Nations’ report on preventing radicalization, Kurt Einzinger, the former President of the European Association of Internet Service Providers, and Tim Stevens, an Associate Fellow of the ICSR at Kings College London and author of a major report in 2009 that contributed to the UK’s strategy. Leading the project will be Johnny Ryan, a Senior Researcher at the IIEA and O’Reilly Foundation Scholar at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

The project leader, Johnny Ryan, remarked on the announcement today:

“Our brief is at the nexus of two key trends: the democratisation of communications driven by user generated content on the Internet; and the democratisation of strategic violence driven by mass-casualty non-state terrorism. How best can Europe capitalise on the first trend to counter the second?”

The objective of the study is to determine which measures allow Internet users to register their concern about violent propaganda. On the other hand, the European Commission wants to maintain the openness and freedom that make the Internet vital to economic, political and cultural life.

The Commission has requested this study to insure that the best expertise is applied to the question of how to keep the Internet open, but maximise citizens’ safety.

According to Kurt Einzinger, the former head of the European Association of Internet Service Providers, the challenge will be:

“To find the right balance between effective law enforcement and crime prevention and at the same time strengthen personal freedom and privacy of communications on the internet. It is worth keeping in mind that the Internet will be the blood-vessel of our global future society”.

IIEA Director General, Jill Donoghue, said those involved in the project recognised the scale of the challenge and the huge importance of digital research to the country.

“The IIEA is positioning itself as a leader in political, social and regulatory aspects of digital research in Europe,” she said. “We want Dublin to be the centre of excellence for Europe in this area”.

For further information please contact:
Johnny Ryan ( / +353-1-8746756)

Notes to Editors:

About IIEA
The Institute of International and European Affairs is a policy research think-tank and forum based in Dublin. Founded in 1991 it is a registered charity and independent of all political, economic and social interests.

Individual members include former heads of state and senior figures from the political world, government departments, the judiciary, business and academia together with trade unions and NGOs.

The Institute has been actively following the development of EU telecommunications and security policy and its implications for Ireland for a number of years. In 2008 it launched ‘The Next Leap: A Competitive Ireland in the Digital Era’, a strategic report on the trends of change and opportunities for government action based on the inputs of businesses across the digital sector in Ireland. In 2007, its report ‘Countering militant Islamist radicalisation: a user-driven strategy to recover the web’ shifted the debate on terrorism away from censorship and toward new approaches to the medium. IIEA experts have spoken on this and related issues at the UN, OSCE, the European Commission, and at various high level fora across the EU, putting Irish thought leadership on the world stage.

7 thoughts on “Measures to prevent the spread of violent material on the Net across the EU?

  1. Hi Johnny,

    Very interesting. You might want to tie into a UCD/DCU group that are looking at web-semantic ways of measuring/monitoring the same thing.

    Drop me a mail if that sounds relevant.
    Keep up the good work with the blog,


  2. Congratulations Johhny, and to all the project team. This looks like an excellent project and perfect for you!

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