In December 2020 the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) commenced an Inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism in Australia. 

Especially pertinent to the work of the Online Hate Prevention Institute, the PJCIS considered the role of social media, encrypted communications platforms and the dark web in allowing extremists to communicate and organise.

Our submission, dated February 12, 2021, highlights the importance of the removal of the pathways to radicalisation. The largest concern is that lone wolf attacks could be carried out by those who are not formally part of a group, but who have self-radicalised through online content.

Submission overview

The Online Hate Prevention Institute, Australia’s only harm prevention charity dedicated to tackling online hate and extremism, welcomes the opportunity to respond to this consultation. Civil society organisations like ours play a vital role in monitoring extremism in Australia and mitigating risk.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute has proven expertise in bringing transparency to social media, monitoring and reporting on online extremism, and supporting police, government and other agencies with Open Source Intelligence. Our policy advice and technical recommendations have led to changes to core software by major technology platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Our software tools, research methodologies and policy guidance are recognised as world class. We make the online world a safer place. In light of the rise of extremism fuelled through the internet, the work we do is needed now more than ever.

We believe tech companies, government and civil society must work together to prevent, detect and remove the dangerous content promoting terrorism, violent extremism and incitement which leads to radicalisation. We believe tech companies control the infrastructure and have the greatest capacity and responsibility to respond, but to ensure they do so effectively, we need monitoring and transparency with measurable results. This requires independent assessment and verification in addition to selfreporting. We must create systems that are robust to changes in technology and society. We must create systems which support continual improvement. We must create systems that engage with tech companies, government and civil society.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute was designed to provide an agile response to the online environment. We have developed the tools and expertise to make a real impact and we have a track record, parts of which are discussed in this report, which demonstrates this impact. We are proud to serve on the Australian Government’s delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and to be leading a multi-lateral pilot project on behalf of the Australian Government providing new tools to track Holocaust denial and antisemitic content which is commonly associated with white nationalism and the sort of far-right extremism which has been behind recent terrorist attacks overseas.

In response to the terrorist attack in New Zealand a number of governments, include the Australian Government, have signed up to the Christchurch call. This declaration notes the importance of civil society engagement in tackling the spread of extremism. With a solid track record and international recognition, the Online Hate Prevention Institute is perfectly placed to work with government in delivering a response to the horrific attack and subsequent incidents.

The Full Submission

View or download the Online Hate Prevention Institute’s full submission to the Inquiry into Extremist Movements & Radicalism in Australia here.

For more information about the Inquiry, head to the Parliament of Australia’s website here.