On 23 November 2020, the EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) hosted their second tabletop exercise in a virtual event held under the umbrella of the European Commission-led EU Internet Forum.
The aim of the exercise was to test an EU-led voluntary mechanism to enable a coordinated response to a cross-border massive abuse of the internet in the context of terrorism or violent extremism. The EU IRU’s initial tabletop exercise, held on 11 September 2019, was the first of its kind since the launch of the Christchurch Call to Action and led towards closer cooperation between parties involved in advancing the fight against terrorism online.
Recent acts of terrorism in France and Austria in October-November 2020, have further demonstrated the importance of disrupting the dissemination of terrorist and violent extremist propaganda during, and in the aftermath of, terrorist attacks.
The tabletop exercise forms part of a larger consultation process, through which the EU IRU and Member States are improving their operational response to the dissemination of propaganda linked to acts of terrorism. The exercise reconfirmed the need for real-time coordination and engagement between EU MS and Online Service Providers in order to support investigations while also containing potentially viral content in light of major terrorist incidents.
The exercise was attended by EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain,), third countries (Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom) and the European Commission.
The EU IRU will expand their 2021 tabletop exercise to include a wider range of participants, including Online Service Providers.