Navigating the Intersection of Technology, Terrorism, and Human Rights

Introduction

The reflection will discuss three issues which are related to advanced technology, terrorism and human rights. Technology created global connectivity with its openness; nevertheless it is vulnerable to significant violations by criminals (Wainwright, 2018). During the French Revolution, terrorism was considered necessary to create democracy. However, the term terrorism evolved to signify “abuse of power”. The event of 9/11 has led to the declaration of war on terror and it has been argued whether that brought the end of human rights era (Eicke, 2002; Menon, 2014). The governments have the responsibility to respect human rights. It is unquestionable that terrorism violates human rights; however can governments protect human rights while fighting terrorism? (Piazza and Walsh, 2010).

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Technology and Terrorism

Technological advancement can be used by terrorists in the production of weapons and communicating terrorist’s vision and views with others. Previously terrorism relied on face to face meetings to be able to recruit the followers and plan attacks (Morgan, 2004; Prelas, Ghosh, Viswanath and Loyalka, 2009). However, with the huge advancement in technology and the creation of communication technology specially the internet is used by the terrorists to spread propaganda and disinformation, attract the supporters and train them, raise funds from sympathisers, collect data, plan attacks, distribute their messages, communicate with the members on an international scale, provide training on the construction and planting of explosive devices, publicise their acts of aggression and strengthen their perceived image of their great power and it provides massive amount of information facilitating quick and reliable communication channels (Wright, 2008;Wainwright, 2018; Mahmood and Jetter, 2019).

Technology has allowed the people to connect with anyone in the world with similar ideologies regardless of their physical location and terrorists use social media platforms to collect information and target the people with similar views and promote themselves and this imposes huge danger on societies as this can facilitate and increase the occurrence of terrorist attacks and create radicalisation mindset among lots of people (Wright, 2008;Weimann, 2014; Anyanwu, 2018).

For example, an attack that took place in Pakistan in 2017 was broadcasted live to the public using communication technology (Mahmood and Jetter, 2019).

Terrorism and Human Rights

Menon (2014) argued that, the terrorist attack of 9/11 has brought an end to the era of human rights. Governments have huge responsibilities, as the duty of fighting terrorism while respecting human rights. However, it is argued that, it is inevitable that, the human rights are violated while combating terrorism, as it is complex and hard for the leaders and authorities to balance the responsibility to protect the country against any threats while protecting and respecting human rights (Eicke, 2002; Palti, 2005; Piazza and Walsh, 2010; Anyanwu, 2018). Terrorism and the increase in attacks has created islamophobia, right wings and promoted national identity and this led to discrimination between religion groups (Altheide, 2009).

Respecting human rights influences terrorist attacks as terrorists want to create political instability and on the other hand violation of human rights encourages terrorism as it will facilitate the recruitment of supporters, whose human rights have been violated (Hoffman, 2004; Hafner-Burton and Shapiro, 2010; Piazza and Walsh, 2010).

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 states that “everyone has the right to have freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). Terrorism has created fear between people to express their opinions. Article 19 clearly states that there should be no interference with people’s freedom of information however this right is breached as some societies are targeted through surveillance and data profiling. Article 19 also means that, terrorists can express their opinions as human rights are universal (Piazza and Walsh, 2010; Menon, 2014; Anyanwu, 2018).

Responding to Terrorism and Impacts on Human Rights

In the UK, authorities were allowed by the introduction of the “Investigatory Powers Act” in 2016 to hack devices, browsing histories that were made accessible to lots of public bodies by forcing internet providers for collecting browsing histories allowing the collection of large databases of data on everybody in the UK (Countering Terrorism, no date). This is a breach of Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his honour and reputation, everyone has the right to protect the law against such interference or attacks” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). Nevertheless, hacking and using browser information has allowed the police to identify and monitor HosamMajer who planned an attack on the Dallas skyscraper in Texas through his online conversations (Mahmood and Jetter, 2019). Austrialia, France, Germany and many countries have implemented new regulations to reduce terrorism that violates human rights (Anyanwu, 2018).

Human rights are universal implying that they are applied to terrorists as well however; terrorists’ human rights are violated as article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits torture and discrimination nevertheless, and in Guantánamo Bay detainees are tortured. Article 11 is also violated as it states that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Shaker Aamer was arrested after the 9/11 attacks and was imprisoned for 13 years and he was subject to torture in the Guantánamo Bay furthermore, in 2007 he was cleared however, he was not released as there was no plans to charge him by authorities and this is breach of article 7 which is freedom from discrimination (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948; Hoffman, 2004; Hafner-Burton and Shapiro, 2010; National Security & Human Rights – Amnesty International USA, no date).

Counterterrorism Using Technology

To counter terrorism, terrorism must be defined however, it is hard to define terrorism as it conflicts with freedom fighters as some of their acts is considered similar to terrorism when referring to previous definitions (Lagoutte, Sano and Smith, 2006; Menon, 2014). For example, in Hudson planned suicide bombing was prevented by using internet chatroom to identify the planner (Mahmood and Jetter, 2019). Technologies such as facial recognition cameras, surveillance cameras and the internet make it easier to track, monitor and arrest terrorists (Eijkman, 2012).

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Conclusion

The technological transition and the emergence of new media have created an uncharted global interconnectedness. Technology is crucial in the spread of terrorism due to its openness. It is challenging for the leaders and governments across the globe to counter terrorism while respecting human rights. However, terrorists’ human rights are violated in most of the cases as they are killed or tortured. But, should terrorists’ human rights be respected when they violate others human rights?

References

Altheide, D., 2009. Terrorism Programming. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 2(1), pp.65-80.

Anyanwu, C., 2018. Fear of communicating fear versus fear of terrorism: A human rights violation or a sign of our time?. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20(1), pp.26-33.

Eicke, T., 2002. Terrorism and Human Rights. European Journal of Migration and Law, 4(4), pp.449-467.

Eijkman, Q., 2012. Counter-Terrorism, Technology and Transparency: Reconsidering State Accountability. Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Studies, 3(1), pp.1-10.

EMBAR-SEDDON, A., 2002. Cyberterrorism. American Behavioral Scientist, 45(6), pp.1033-1043.

Hafner-Burton, E. and Shapiro, J., 2010. Tortured Relations: Human Rights Abuses and Counterterrorism Cooperation. PS: Political Science & Politics, 43(03), pp.415-419.

Hoffman, P., 2004. Human Rights and Terrorism. Human Rights Quarterly, 26(4), pp.932-955.

Lagoutte, S., Sano, H. and Smith, P., 2006. Human Rights In Turmoil. Leiden: M. Nijhoff, pp.133-162.

Mahmood, R. and Jetter, M., 2019. Communications Technology and Terrorism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 64(1), pp.127-166.

MENON, S., 2014. International Terrorism and Human Rights. Asian Journal of International Law, 4(1), pp.1-33.

Morgan, M., 2004. The Origins of the New Terrorism. Parameters, 34(1), pp.29-43.

OLĂNESCU, S. and OLĂNESCU, A., 2019. CYBERTERRORISM: THE LATEST CRIME AGAINST INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC ORDER. Lex et Scientia, 26(1), pp.92-100.

Palti, L., 2005. Combating Terrorism While Protecting Human Rights. UN Chronicle, 41(4), pp.27-28.

Piazza, J. and Walsh, J., 2010. Terrorism and Human Rights. PS: Political Science & Politics, 43(3), pp.407-409.

Prelas, M., Ghosh, T., Viswanath, D. and Loyalka, S., 2009. Science And Technology Of Terrorism And Counterterrorism. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press LLC, pp.20-28.

Wainwright, R., 2018. Fighting Crime and Terrorism in the Age of Technology. The Brown Journal of World Affairs; Providence, 24(2), pp.191-203.

Weimann, G., 2014. New Terrorism and New Media. DC: Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2(1), pp.1-15.

Wright, M., 2008. TECHNOLOGY & TERRORISM. Forensic Examiner, 17(4), pp.13-20.

Yunos, Z. and Sulaman, S., 2017. Understanding Cyber Terrorism from Motivational Perspectives. Journal of Information Warfare, 16(4), pp.1-13.


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