ALEXANDRE LALLEMAND (unsplash)
Europol, a notable policing organization, recently unveiled its concerns regarding how terrorists and extremists could leverage emerging technologies such as conversational AI, deepfakes, and the metaverse. The group highlighted these concerns in its 2023 EU Terrorism Situation and Trend (TE-SAT) Report.
The report underscored the potential risk that new online platforms, particularly the metaverse, might pose. These platforms could provide a fertile ground for spreading propaganda, recruiting followers, and coordinating extremist activities. It also made note of open-source decentralized platforms, which seem to be gaining traction among terrorist and extremist groups.
While the metaverse is still developing, decentralized P2P apps, already being used to spread propaganda, pose a problem for law enforcement due to their difficult-to-moderate and investigate nature. According to Europol, the digital sphere is lowering the entry threshold for engaging with terrorism and extremism. It is also expanding the pool of individuals who may be exposed to radicalization and is contributing to the unpredictable nature of such activities.
The report also brought attention to the prospective application of deepfakes, augmented reality, and conversational AI in bolstering the effectiveness of terrorist propaganda. These technologies, along with IoT tools, might also be utilized for more tangible tasks like remotely operating vehicles and weapons for attacks or establishing virtual training camps.
The focus isn’t solely on emerging technologies. Europol also underscored current technologies already exploited by terrorist and extremist groups, which include end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) messaging platforms and game-related platforms used for recruitment and propaganda distribution.
The report also pointed out that both Islamic terror groups and right-wing extremists use the latter. These groups craft communities on gaming communication apps and create “extremist utopias” within popular video games to attract younger members.
Furthermore, digital currencies are reportedly aiding in financing these groups, providing a layer of anonymity for those offering funds.
In the previous year, the report recorded 28 successful, thwarted, or botched attacks within the EU, with four fatalities reported.