We use Facebook for all sorts of things, both brilliant and inane. And while it may be our favorite news resource, social gathering place or general time waster, it’s also something else, something potentially very dangerous, says the United Nations: It reports that the social network has become a favored communications tool of terrorist organizations.
According to the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime’s new report, “The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes,” these groups use Facebook to spread their rhetoric, enlist members and sympathizers, and plan targeted attacks. The report, which was released at a meeting of counterterrorism officials in Vienna, also included Twitter and YouTube among the radicals’ favorite tools.
The Internet knows no boundaries, and so the UN calls on nations to combat this threat with cyberterrorism legislation and support law enforcement agencies in cross-border collaborations. This, however, puts the U.S. in a somewhat awkward position.
These companies are based here, and yet Congress failed to ratify the “Cybersecurity Act” this year. U.S. senators had asked Facebook, Google and Apple to support a proposed compromise, but couldn’t get it to fly. Here’s why: While it would help protect integral infrastructure from cyber attacks, it also places the responsibility and cost on private businesses. And, say critics, it also didn’t really provision for privacy issues. (For more information on CSA, click here.)
We have seen a definite rise in hacking in recent years, but we have yet to see our infrastructure buckle due to a cataclysmic event on a regional or national scale due to cybersecurity threats. Hopefully there won’t be one while a solution gets hashed out. Toward that end, the White House has reportedly drafted what looks like an executive order that could stand-in for that legislation, but whether that will be put into play remains to be seen.