In this interview, Adrian Onu (AST) highlights the types of tasks that the CounteR Platform can perform, its functionalities, and technological advantages.
The CounteR platform provides a proactive and technology-driven approach to identifying and countering radical content and the spread of extremist ideologies online. From a technical perspective, what tasks can the CounteR platform perform?
The CounteR platform is designed to serve as an early-warning tool for the detection of potential radical content. It possesses a range of vital capabilities. The most important tasks and functions that this platform can handle include:
- Proactive Content Monitoring: The tool enables law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) to conduct constant monitoring of online content across a spectrum of platforms, encompassing social media, websites, and more. Presently, CounteR oversees online content on platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and Telegram, as well as specific websites from the open web, deep web, dark web, and even manually uploaded content.
- Reactive Mode: Internet service-providers (ISPs) can leverage this mode to moderate radical content. It provides a binary classification for the content that is uploaded, aiding in swift content moderation.
- Detection of Radical Content: The platform is adept at pinpointing potential signs of radicalisation, extremist ideologies, and hate speech within the content it monitors. In addition, it facilitates the analysis of multi-modal content — scrutinising radical images and videos and discerning connections between radical entities and their content. Another notable function is its ability to visualise Social Network Analysis (SNA), granting insights into potentially radical communities and their members.
- Reporting and Analysis: CounteR produces comprehensive reports and analytics. This assists authorities and organisations in gauging trends, identifying emerging threats, and determining the efficacy of their counter-radicalisation measures. Furthermore, the platform encourages collaboration and information exchange among diverse stakeholders, paving the way for unified strategies to tackle radicalisation.
- Ethics and Privacy: CounteR’s core runs an ethics and privacy engine that enables data protection and privacy controls.
- User Interface: With its intuitive design, the platform provides stakeholders with efficient means to engage with the data and reports it generates.
What are the CounteR Platform’s functionalities?
The tool offers six key functionalities: Data Collection; Proactive Content Monitoring; Detection of Radical Content; Thread Insights, SNA, Risky users; Collaboration, Reporting, Configuration; and Privacy Engine. Following the second piloting session in September in Sofia, the LEA partners validated the tool’s second version and all issues that were found were recorded in order to improve the overall quality and feel of the platform. The system went through a stress test after the representatives of the law-enforcement entities successfully uploaded the synthetic datasets. Overall, the CounteR Platform will assist LEAs and other organisations in the fight against radicalisation and terrorism, serving as an early-warning tool for the detection of potential radical content. In addition, all this is very well summarised in the CounteR brochure, published on our website. Readers can see the complete information summarised concisely.
How does the platform work as a concept, and what are one or two most typical scenarios in which an LEA or ISP can use the platform?
The overall concept of the CounteR platform is to provide a proactive and technology-driven approach to identifying and countering radical content and the spread of extremist ideologies online, with the ultimate goal of preventing life-threatening terrorist attacks. LEAs and ISPs can use the CounteR platform in a variety of scenarios to enhance their counter-radicalization and threat prevention efforts. Here are one or two typical scenarios in which they might use the platform:
- Monitoring and Early Warning: LEAs can use the CounteR platform to proactively monitor online content for signs of radicalisation and extremist activity. For example, if they receive information about individuals or groups of concern, they can input relevant keywords, profiles, or indicators into the platform. The tool will continuously scan the internet and provide results when it detects content or behaviour associated with the specified threats. This allows LEAs to intervene early, investigate potential threats, and take preventive action to deter radicalization or terrorist activities.
- Compliance and Moderating: ISPs are often required to comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to the removal or reporting of illegal or extremist content on their platforms using the Reactive mode. The CounteR platform can assist ISPs in identifying and flagging such content, helping them fulfil their legal obligations. ISPs can use the tool to automate content monitoring and reporting processes, streamlining their compliance efforts and ensuring that harmful content is promptly addressed.
These scenarios highlight the platform’s versatility in supporting LEAs and ISPs in their efforts to counter radicalization and prevent life-threatening terrorist attacks. It provides a proactive and efficient means of identifying potential threats and managing compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
What are the features that make CounteR better than other similar products?
The following three key aspects best describe CounteR’s benefits:
- Diverse Radicalization Domain Detection: Unlike many tools that may only focus on one form of extremism, CounteR distinguishes itself by its capability to detect content across a variety of radicalisation domains. This includes, but is not limited to, jihadism and far-right ideologies. This ensures a comprehensive and holistic approach to monitoring and combating radical content online.
- Multilingual Content Detection: In an increasingly globalised world, the ability to monitor content in multiple languages is essential. CounteR stands out with its multilingual support, able to detect and analyse content published in a multiple of languages, such as English, French, Arabic, Latvian, German, Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek, and Portuguese. This ensures that the platform is not constrained by linguistic barriers: it can operate effectively across diverse geographical regions.The good news is that more languages will be added in the future.
- Advanced Moderation Engine: One of the distinct features of CounteR is its moderating engine, which is designed to classify extremist categories not targeted by market tools, such as Open AI.
Adrian Onu, COO of ASSIST Software
Adrian Onu, COO of ASSIST Software, has a degree in Computer Science and over 15 years of experience in IT&C. He started his career in networking and IT infrastructure, designing and implementing data networks and processing systems, before moving to software engineering of projects in different sectors, such as security, e-health or Business Services. At present, Adrian manages operations in ASSIST Software and coordinates various software engineering projects in the company.