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Saving the Internet from cyber terrorism (3)
By Carlo Revelli

Founder and CEO of Cybion, author of "Strategic Intelligence on the Internet" (Dunod).

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Other, more recent, information is much harder to find even with the most powerful search engines. This requires tools that draw on research in artificial intelligence and the methodology of competitive intelligence. This can lead to surprising results. And it is precisely here that the forces of law and order will need to concentrate their efforts.

Even so, no program (however intelligent it may be) and no expert information researcher can claim to be able to monitor every Web site or every discussion group on the Internet. Having operated in this field in the private sector since 1996, we know from experience that 100% exhaustive monitoring is not yet possible on the Internet for a number of technical reasons.

The only weapon to combat a "networked strategy" is adopting a "networked offensive" and learning to make use of the collective intelligence of the Net. Just as fanatics (whether Islamist or from the West) use Web sites and discussion groups to develop strategies for death, each one of us can be a "captor", able to identify at any moment a Web site advocating hatred or terror. Of course, there would then be a need for an accredited organization to receive and analyze the complaints…

We should nevertheless be wary of the many "digital militias" that are starting to flourish on the Web, whose stated objective is to collect as much information as possible about the activities of Osama Bin Laden and transmit it to the relevant authorities, including the FBI. Too often, unfortunately, the true intentions of some of these «hackers» are to use the situation merely as a means of free publicity. Drawing the line between what is acceptable and what should be forbidden is a very subtle affair. The wisest position is probably to use the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a basis.

Freedom of expression must be complete and total, but at the same time respect morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. An example comes from the British authorities that have shut down a number of sites that were raising funds to finance holy war or provide weapons training… The recent attacks in the USA will probably encourage us to adopt a collective intelligence, or rather, ethic, for a true citizen’s auto-regulation of Internet.

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