UK unveils online tool to block ISIS content

The UK government has unveiled a new technology that can automatically detect by using artificial intelligence the ISIS propaganda materials and violent videos which are used for recruiting cadres online.

Developed by the UK Home Office and London-based company ASI Data Science, the technology uses advanced machine learning to analyse the audio and visuals of a video to determine whether it could be ISIS propaganda.

The Home Office said in a statement yesterday that its new tool can automatically detect 94 per cent of ISIS propaganda with 99.995 per cent accuracy.

The purpose of these videos is to incite violence in our communities, recruit people to their cause, and attempt to spread fear in our society.

We know that automatic technology like this can heavily disrupt the terrorists actions, as well as prevent people from ever being exposed to these horrific images,UK home secretary Amber Rudd said in reference to the new tool.

This government has been taking the lead worldwide in making sure that vile terrorist content is stamped out,ť she said.

The announcement came as she addressed a Digital Forum in Silicon Valley during a US visit this week.

She discussed the new anti-terror tool on her visit during talks with internet service providers in the country as part of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which was launched last year in the aftermath of the UK Parliament attack in March 2017.

The Home Office and ASI said they will be sharing the methodology behind the new model with smaller companies, in order to help combat the abuse of their platforms by terrorists and their supporters.

According to them, many of the major tech companies have developed technology specific to their own platforms and have publicly reported on the difference this is making in their fight against terrorist content.

But smaller platforms are increasingly targeted by ISIS and its supporters and they often do not have the same level of resources to develop technology.

The model, which has been trained using over 1,000 ISIS videos, is not specific to one platform so can be used to support the detection of terrorist propaganda across a range of video-streaming and download sites in real-time,the Home Office said.

Separately, new Home Office analysis revealed that ISIS supporters used more than 400 unique online platforms to push out their poisonous material in 2017, highlighting the importance of technology that can be applied across different platforms.

Previous research has found the majority of links to ISIS propaganda are disseminated within two hours of release, while a third of all links are disseminated within the first hour.

The new research also shows 145 new platforms from July 2017 until the end of the year had not been used before. PTI