Terrorism in the Age of Tech

Reinier Bergema, Olivia Kearney 1 Nov 2019

Drones are becoming powerful and smarter, which makes them increasingly attractive for legitimate use, but also for hostile acts. Future commercial-off-the-shelf drones will be able to carry heavier payloads, fly and loiter longer, venture farther afield from their controllers and be able to do so via more-secure communications links. On the other hand, new technologies will significantly enhance states’ ability to counter terrorism. And as it advances further, it is expected to play an even more central role in counterterrorism efforts. However, the use of new technologies like facial recognition, is putting pressure on human rights, either intentionally or unintentionally. Particularly the application of AI solutions can simultaneously threaten the freedom of expression, drive inequality and discrimination, and provide repressive regimes with powerful tools to control their populations.

In this Report for Clingendael’s Global Security Pulse (GSP), which tracks emerging security trends and risks worldwide, ICCT’s Reinier Bergema and Clingendael’s Goos Hofstee and Myrthe van der Graaf map out trends and threats in the age of technology. The impact of modern technology as understood in its broadest sense on both terrorism and counterterrorism is assessed by looking at the trends in the use of technology in terrorist attacks (e.g., the use of drones), the use of modern communication technology (e.g., for the dissemination of propaganda, or for recruitment purposes), and the use of financial technology for (countering) terrorist financing.