Law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) across Europe face important challenges in trying to identify, gather and interpret terrorist-generated content on the internet. An EU-funded project is creating a powerful IT-based intelligence platform for detecting online, organised terrorist activities. The goal is to help authorities protect people against terrorist attacks.
For the majority of citizens, the internet is a valuable day-to-day resource. For criminals and terrorists, it provides a means to communicate with affiliates, coordinate action plans, raise funds and draw in new supporters or recruits to their networks.
Much of this activity takes place on the so-called ‘dark web’. This is an encrypted network of servers and clients that connects users to websites anonymously, making it difficult to trace users or operators.
In response to this challenge, the EU-funded TENSOR project is developing a powerful IT-based terrorism intelligence platform. The tool integrates fast and reliable planning and prevention functionalities for the early detection of organised terrorist activities, including recruitment and radicalisation.
TENSOR comprises a set of automated and semi-automated tools for efficient and effective searching, crawling, monitoring and gathering of online terrorist-generated content. These tools operate on both the conventional internet and the dark web.
The platform employs intelligent dialogue-enabled bots to penetrate the internet. They extract information from multimedia, such as video, images and audio, and from multilingual content.
Any content of interest is then categorised, filtered and analysed in real time and relevant information is summarised and delivered to the pertinent authorities. Importantly, the platform adheres to the principles of privacy-by-design and data protection.
The TENSOR platform is the result of a broad collaboration that includes industrial partners, LEAs, legal experts and research institutions. The range of contributors helps to ensure, among other things, that the final system meets real end-user requirements.
For industrial partners, in particular, the project has provided new insights into how LEAs operate and what their market needs are. In this way, they are enhancing their own competitiveness in the lucrative and important field of fighting online terrorist activities.