01 September 2016
A recent report by EU policing agency Europol "presents the achievements of the first year of the EU Internet Referral Unit (IRU) and its future priorities, which are in line with its mandate." The IRU is a specialised unit that seeks to ensure the removal from the web of content related to terrorism, violent extremism and migrant smuggling.
See: Europol, 'EU Internet Referral Unit - YEAR ONE REPORT - HIGHLIGHTS' (pdf)
With regard to terrorism and violent extremism, the report says:
"The EU IRU has identified over 70 platforms used by terrorist groups to spread their propaganda materials and has been referring Internet content across over 31 online platforms. This is a voluntary arrangement and it is ultimately for the companies to decide whether to remove the material. Nevertheless, in 91.4% of the EU IRU referrals, the material has been swiftly removed. Additionally, the EU IRU is in constant dialogue and engagement with new platforms that are being used by terrorist propagandists, in order to help them increase their resilience against terrorist related propaganda."
As regards "the disruption of illegal immigrant smuggling networks", the report says:
“In addition, according to its mandate, the EU IRU expanded its open source and Internet monitoring activities, in order to contribute to the disruption of illegal immigrant smuggling networks. The EU IRU has processed 122 accounts linked to illegal immigration upon request from the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC).
Furthermore, the Unit has supported 43 operational queries and has contributed to 7 Investigation Initiation Documents and 1 Intelligence Notification. Moreover, due to specific counter terrorism related links which have been identified in all Hotspots of the Greek islands, a deployment was requested for frontline support in Greece. The Unit, in a joint effort with all the Operations Units, has deployed 3 staff so far to support the Hotspots in Greece.”
On this topic, see also: EU Policy Cycle: Monitoring of the Operational Action Plans 2016 - Priority "Illegal Immigration"(9931/16, EU RESTREINT/EU RESTRICTED, 9 June 2016, pdf):
"Europol’s Internet Referral Unit (IRU) is tasked with monitoring social media accounts used to facilitate irregular migration. (Intelligence Notification: The use of Facebook in relation to Facilitated Illegal Immigration into Europe across the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas”.)"
For more information on the IRU, see: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees” (pdf)
Previous Statewatch News Online coverage: Policing the internet: 91% of Europol's 11,000 requests for content removal successful (25 July 2016)
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