The EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU), part of EUROPOL’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), started its operations in July 2015 with a mandate to refer terrorist and violent extremist content to Online Service Providers (OSPs) and support Member States (MS) and Third Parties in Internet investigations. It is also mandated to contribute to the disruption of illegal immigrant smuggling networks, by detecting and requesting removal of Internet content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees, upon MS requests. The EU IRU works in close collaboration with the two other components of ECTC: Operations and Strategy expertise. This collaboration ensures that the mission of the ECTC can be implemented through the provision of high quality operational support and advanced strategic products, and that the ECTC proactively engages in counter-terrorism (CT) related developments within the European Union (EU) and beyond.
The EU IRU’s mission is to link the virtual face of terrorism to its physical aspect, by bridging the gap between prevention and investigation capabilities. The EU IRU’s role is to detect and refer the core disseminators of terrorist propaganda, with the aim of not only removing content, but identifying and facilitating the attribution and prosecution of perpetrators. Its ultimate objective is to reduce accessibility of terrorist content online, by providing a resilient referral capability for the Member States, and to provide a core Internet-based investigation support capability to respond to the MS operational needs.
Both of the EU IRU capabilities are supported by staff members who have a rich diversity of knowledge and skills, ranging from experts in religiously inspired terrorism, linguists, ICT developers and law enforcement experts in counter terrorism investigations.
This report gives an account of the EU IRU's major activities during 2018, in the fields of prevention and investigation