2018 - DARK DEALINGS: HOW TERRORISTS USE ENCRYPTED MESSAGING, THE DARK WEB AND CRYPTOCURRENCIES - 182 STCTTS 18 E fin

Matej TONIN (Slovenia)

The strength of encryption today has had a positive effect for groups which need protection from governments or law enforcement, for example whistle blowers or journalists operating in repressive countries. However such technologies can also hide terrorist activities from law enforcement and intelligence services.

For example, secure encrypted communication platforms like WhatsApp or Telegram allow for communications, command and control between terrorists and extremists. The hidden part of the internet or the “dark web” is used to spread propaganda, radicalise would-be terrorists and even enable the acquisition of illegal goods. Even cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have the potential of being abused by terrorist groups to make their purchases or funding sources very difficult to trace. 

This aim of this report is to help Allies block off the ways terrorist organisations can use these technologies for their aims. It does so by reviewing the encrypted technologies used by terrorists – and how they use them to accomplish their aims. The report also discusses what efforts governments, companies and civil society have undertaken to counter terrorist use of these technologies. The Rapporteur proposes baseline recommendations as a starting point for developing a set of concrete policy recommendations for Allied governments and parliaments.

This report informs and supports the Science and Technology Committee’s (STC) continuing focus on potentially disruptive technologies with important implications for defence and security policies. The report was adopted at the Annual Session in Halifax, Canada on Sunday 18 November 2018.