Short speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte for the side event on online radicalisation

Ladies and gentlemen,

I’d like to thank the UK and France for organising this timely event. Others have already made a very clear case for decisive action, and I strongly support their calls.

To put it in stark terms: we are all just a few clicks away from instruction videos on how to make a bomb. And we are struggling to get these videos off the internet. We should be using expertise gained elsewhere – in the fight against child pornography for example – to counter violent extremism and terrorism online.

I see four important steps forward. First: governments and companies have a responsibility to make sure that terrorist propaganda is removed from the internet. The Netherlands is a pioneer in this, and I encourage other countries to take these steps as well. Trained police officers in the Netherlands scan the internet and refer extremist content to service providers for removal. At local level, the municipality of Amsterdam trains its youth workers and key community figures to detect and report extremist online content directly to Twitter and Facebook.

But removing content is only part of it. Research shows that most content in the Netherlands is disseminated by a small number of extremists. So my second point is this: we have to stop the people who are actively spreading the content. This means we have to identify, investigate and prosecute these individuals. So that we can prevent vulnerable young people from being exposed to terrorist ideologies on their smartphones and laptops and being drawn in. That will have a more significant and lasting impact.

Thirdly, I have heard calls for tighter and more regulations. That could be part of the solution. But regulating the internet is not a cure-all.

This morning, under the co-leadership of Morocco and the Netherlands, the Global Counterterrorism Forum issued a new set of recommendations on preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism online. These recommendations stress the importance of partnerships with organisations in the private sector and civil society to effectively prevent radicalisation and terrorism – online and offline.

I welcome the industry’s strong engagement. I call on the big companies here today to reach out and involve the smaller internet companies, in particular those operating on the edges of the open spaces. Initiatives such as the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism will help with ongoing efforts to harness voluntary public-private cooperation to combat this threat.

The next step, and my fourth and final point. Preventing radicalisation requires more than reactive measures. Governments and industry should work together more closely to support and promote alternative narratives, delivered by credible voices. So that we can bolster young people’s resilience to terrorist propaganda.

One last thing – and this is important. It can be challenging to strike a balance between security measures and freedom of expression and privacy. Especially when there are people challenging these fundamental freedoms. They are trying to divide society by inciting violence and sowing hatred. We must maintain our online freedoms in a way that safeguards our values and democracy.

As a member of the UN Security Council in 2018, the Kingdom of the Netherlands will play its part in continuing to build international cooperation in these areas.

Thank you.

Ministry responsible