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Police in Northern Ireland are leading a bid to improve the detection of terrorist content on the internet. Project TENSOR is aimed at tackling the threat posed by Islamic State and other extremists.

At the background – UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s warning that the fight was shifting from the “battlefield to the internet”.

The project seeks to develop a platform offering Law Enforcement Agencies fast and reliable planning and prevention functionalities for the early detection of terrorist activities, radicalisation and recruitment, according to its website.

According to belfasttelegraph.co.uk, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) deputy chief constable Drew Harris said: “Terrorists and criminals use the internet to connect with each other, source tools and techniques, and grow support for their ideology. In that way, we see technology utilised in a dangerous way, a way which has the potential to threaten the safety and security of communities across Europe.

“Indeed, we have seen the terrible impact of terrorism in Europe – in London, Manchester, Nice, Paris and Brussels.

“The research undertaken in the TENSOR project will play an important part in working to increase the capability of law enforcement agencies to prevent and detect the use of the internet by terrorists and increase community safety.”

The work is part of Horizon 2020, which describes itself as the biggest European Union research and innovation programme ever. It is supported by multiple organisations across Europe, with 16 partners from seven European countries involved in the research and innovation.

Professor Babak Akhgar, TENSOR technical and scientific lead, added: “The TENSOR project will provide law enforcement agencies with state-of-the-art capacities to combat violent radicalisation inspired by online content. The project can also enhance law enforcement agencies’ ability to identify and analyse terrorist-generated content in order to protect citizens.

“The legal and ethical framework of the project will provide a safeguarding mechanism to ensure that the TENSOR solutions are shaped by the privacy and data protection laws that protect the freedom of citizens across Europe in their use of the internet.”

Meanwhile, Facebook announced it now has more than 150 people who are mainly focused on fighting terrorism on the social network, including a mix of academics, analysts and former law enforcement agents, according to the company’s blog. Within this team alone, specialists speak nearly 30 languages. This team has “significantly grown” over the last year.