• 03 July 2017

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A collaborative EC Horizon 2020 research project, led by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and supported by CENTRIC (Sheffield Hallam University), will help address some of the current counter terrorism challenges facing Law Enforcement Agencies across Europe. The TENSOR project is supported by multiple organisations and partners across Europe with 16 partners from seven European countries involved in the research and innovation.

The topic of terrorist generated content online has made headlines in recent weeks. At the last meeting of G7 leaders, Prime Minister Theresa May urged that more needed to be done to address extremist content online, arguing that the fight against Islamic State is shifting from the “battlefield to the internet.” 

The main focus of Project TENSOR is to keep people safe. The project is seeking, through collaborative research and innovation, to develop a platform offering Law Enforcement Agencies fast and reliable planning and prevention functionalities for the early detection of terrorist activities, radicalisation and recruitment.

The project consortium recognises that for the majority of citizens, the internet is a valuable resource in day to day life. But for criminals and terrorists, it provides opportunities to exploit the internet as a tool where they can communicate with affiliates, coordinate action plans, raise funds, and introduce new supporters or recruits into their networks.  These activities present a significant risk to the citizens of Europe.

The TENSOR consortium will work to develop an integrated solution for Law Enforcement Agencies, the aim of which is to increase their ability to identify and analyse terrorist generated content on the internet.

The project, which has a work stream dedicated to the ethical, legal and societal impact, will ensure that the solutions are shaped by the privacy and data protection laws that protect the freedom of citizens across Europe in their use of the internet.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris said:

“The internet is one of the greatest developments of our time. It has revolutionised the way we live and work. But like many advances, it also has proven to have potential of a more subversive nature. Terrorists and criminals use the internet to connect with each other, source tools and techniques and grow support for their ideology. In that way, we see technology utilised in a dangerous way, a way which has the potential to threaten the safety and security of communities across Europe. Indeed we have seen the terrible impact of terrorism in Europe – in London, Manchester, Nice, Paris and Brussels. The research undertaken in the TENSOR project will play an important part in working to increase the capability of law enforcement agencies to prevent and detect the use of the internet by terrorists and increase community safety.

“European funded security research and development work brings together some of the most experienced researchers, technical developers and practitioner’s from across Europe. The TENSOR project topic is challenging and very current. As Law Enforcement and Security Agencies seek to defeat the terrorist threat, we must ensure that we are developing our capabilities to match the challenge we face.  Involvement in funded research and innovation projects ensure that we can do this.”

Director of CENTRIC and TENSOR Technical and Scientific lead, Prof Babak Akhgar added;  

“The TENSOR project will provide Law Enforcement Agencies with state of the art capacities to combat violent radicalisation inspired by online content. The project can also enhance law enforcement agencies ability to identify and analyse terrorist generated content in order to protect citizens.

“The legal and ethical framework of the project will provide a safeguarding mechanism to ensure that the TENSOR solutions are shaped by the privacy and data protection laws that protect the freedom of citizens across Europe in their use of the internet.”