ISIL Terrorists and the use of social media platforms: Are offensive and proactive cyber-attacks the solution to the online presence of ISIL?

Abstract

Private social media platforms are entrusted today with the task of limiting the presence of terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State, on the online scene. Through mechanisms, such as a ‘notice-and-takedown’ or a removal order, these platforms are made aware of online terrorist content and consequently remove it from their platforms. However, the responsibility to protect citizens against terrorist threats lies with states and not with private companies. To reclaim this responsibility, states could perpetrate offensive and proactive cyber-attacks on devices of terrorists located in Belgium to disable their access to information to perpetrate attacks or diminish their online presence. This article discusses the legal frameworks of these mechanisms, their advantages and disadvantages and whether the Belgian state can perform such cyber-attacks or whether it would be desirable for the Belgian authorities to receive this competence. Last, several recommendations are presented to adapt the current Belgian framework to allow the perpetration of such cyber-attacks.

Keywords

Terrorism, Social media platforms, Notice-and-takedown, Cyber-attacks, Belgian state, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Belgian army, Cybercrime

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Océane Dieu (Universiteit Gent)

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0

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