Professor Tom Chen’s spin-out company creates the iREPORTit app.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a new smartphone app to make it easier for Londoners to report terrorist content online.
The iREPORTit app is the creation of Raven Science, a spin-out company established by Professor of Cyber Security, Professor Tom Chen, to find, classify and analyse extremist videos online. Raven Science emerged one of two winners of the Mayor of London's 2020 Civic Innovation Challenge for countering violent extremism online.
Research commissioned by City Hall found four out of five Londoners were unsure how to report extremist material from internet search engines during the pandemic.
The iREPORTit app has been funded by £40,000 of City Hall investment and created in partnership with the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit. It will enable Londoners and people across the country to report terrorist content online quickly, easily and anonymously to the police using their smartphone.
Terrorist attacks during the pandemic
Lockdown restrictions mean Londoners are spending more time than ever online at home, away from traditional protective role models such as teachers, friends and family, faith communities and other support networks. The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a rise in online disinformation which has been used by extremists of all persuasions to promote hate and violence. Terrorist attacks last year in Reading and Streatham, alongside multiple plots foiled by the police and security services, have also proved that terrorism is still a real threat to our communities.
Professor Chen said:
"We are thrilled to have developed the iREPORTit app, in partnership with MOPAC and the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU). Raven Science is a team of cyber security experts whose mission is to make the world safer by improving online security. Having worked on counter extremism for several years, the opportunity to collaborate with MOPAC and the CTIRU on this project has been great. We believe that the app we have developed can really empower the public when reporting worrying or disturbing content they have found online. We have designed the app to be easy to use, confidential, and anonymous. Users can be assured that no personally identifiable information is collected by the app or anywhere in the network, and reports are seen only by the CTIRU. We cannot wait for the public to start using it."
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“We know terrorists and extremists are set on exploiting the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the pandemic for their own gain. With more people than ever online for longer periods, often at home alone or in isolated environments, I’m determined to do everything I can to counter that threat and help keep Londoners safe. Working closely with the national Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit, I have funded the iREPORTit app to make it easier for people to report extremist content quickly and anonymously from their mobile phone. We know terrorism does not recognise borders so this app will be available to all Londoners and everyone across the UK. However, we urgently need the Government and tech firms to step up and do more now to prevent the rapid spread of terrorist and extremism material online. Insidious voices are growing louder online, and we must all work together to counter hate, intolerance, extremism and terrorism.”