The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) has appointed its Independent Advisory Committee as part of a new organisational structure, which consists of 21 members including representatives from seven national governments, two international organisations, and 12 civil society organisations, representing a diverse range of expertise.

The government representatives from Canada, France, Ghana, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, sit alongside members from the EU and the United Nations Counter Terrorism Directorate. Of the remaining twelve representatives from civil society organisations, six are from universities, one of which is J.M. Berger, a Cyber Threats Research Centre (CYTREC) researcher from Swansea University. 

Berger’s specialised areas of research include common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE), extremism, extremist ideologies, social media, terrorism, and violence.

Speaking of his appointment, J.M. Berger said:

“Too many of our online counterterrorism and CVE initiatives are reactive to headlines and seek primarily to put a band aid over specific problems as they become visible to the public.

“I'm looking forward to working with the GIFCT Independent Advisory Committee to encourage accountability, oversight and the implementation of strategies that approach the challenge of online extremism in ways that are proactive, forward-looking and put principles first”.

The work of the Independent Advisory Committee is in turn supported by six thematic working groups, containing approximately 20-25 members each. These members represent the tech industry, national governments and IGO’s (inter-governmental organisations), and civil society organisations.

Swansea University and CYTREC are also represented on three of these groups. Dr Lizz Pearson and Professor Maura Conway sit on the academic and practical research group, Joe Whittaker is on the content-sharing algorithms, processes, and positive interventions group, and, Director of CYTREC, Professor Stuart Macdonald represents Swansea University on the transparency group.

Director of CYTREC, Professor Stuart Macdonald said:

“I am delighted that members of the Cyber Threats Research Centre will have this opportunity to contribute to the work of the GIFCT.

“We share the GIFCT’s commitment to a multi-stakeholder approach and look forward to promoting the importance of evidence-based policies that are both effective and respectful of human rights”.

Between the Independent Advisory Committee and the working groups, there are now five researchers from Swansea University’s CYTREC contributing to the GIFCT’s global multi-stakeholder effort to tackle terrorist use of digital platforms.

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