Dushanbe hosted a two-day Central Asian meeting on countering violent extremism in the digital dimension. The meeting was attended by about 70 experts from all Central Asian countries and Afghanistan – representatives of law enforcement agencies, government agencies, ICT specialists, delegates from civil society, youth organizations, academia and the media.
The meeting was organized by the government of Tajikistan in partnership with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the Kyrgyz Public Foundation “Civil initiative on Internet policy”, the Action against Terrorism Unit of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, UNDP, “Kaspersky Lab”.
The key objective of the forum, which is held for the third year in a row, was to promote the development of strategies aimed at preventing violent extremism in Central Asia, avoiding negative consequences for the economic development of the countries and preventing extremist actions in the cyber space of various groups opposed to the official authorities.
-The very essence and the added value of the internet stems in large part from the fact that it was developed outside of any governmental regulation or interference, said Gerrit Zach, Acting Deputy Head of the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe.
According to the OSCE representative, governments should bear in mind that regulation may be ineffectual, or even counterproductive, if it fails to respect international human rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, association and religion or belief, and the rights to privacy, due process and to a fair trial.
Terrorist groups are increasingly using communication technologies, social networks to promote their radical agenda, introduce their false values into the mass consciousness and recruit new supporters. Unfortunately, these risks are growing for the Central Asian region as the global digital space is actively developed.
Therefore, in addition to preventive measures at national levels, the countries of the region can develop collective approaches to ensuring cyber security on a regional scale, including with the assistance of international organizations such as the UN, OSCE, CIS ATC, SCO, CSTO, etc.
The experts meeting in Dushanbe included presentations on best practices from Central Asian experts and international experts from Canada, Israel, Russia, the United States. They presented appropriate methods to effectively address the threats posed by the exploitation of the Internet by extremists, while respecting privacy and freedom of expression, maintaining global connectivity and the free and secure flow of information.
Several round tables were also organized on the sidelines of the forum. One of them was devoted to the discussion of gaps and needs in cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy as a factor of protection against threats of violent extremism.
In addition, another session addressed the importance of partnerships between government institutions, the media and non-governmental organizations in creating and disseminating positive content on the Interner as an antidote tool to counter the disinformation online blow-outs by extremist groups.
Following the meeting, a document summarizing the main conclusions of the panel discussions and methods of sustainable interaction and coordination in the Central Asian region on issues related to the prevention and fight against violent extremism on the Internet was adopted.