As might be expected, keeping ISIS militants off the Internet is easier said than done

020416blog islamic state internet access

A 3D plastic representation of the Twitter and YouTube logo is seen in front of a displayed ISIS flag in this photo illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Reuters this morning has an interesting story about ongoing efforts in Iraq to keep Islamic State militants from using the Internet to recruit supporters. How? By keeping them off the Internet entirely.  

From the story:

For Iraq then, the key is to stop the militant group from accessing the web at all - a feat, which if achieved, could sever a significant part of a propaganda campaign that has inspired deadly attacks in the West.

Mobile networks are largely inoperable in the Islamic State-held swathes of Iraq, areas which also have little fixed-line broadband infrastructure. Militants instead use satellite dishes to connect to the web, or illicit microwave dishes that hook them into broadband networks in government-held areas, three telecoms industry sources told Reuters.

Denying militants access to satellite connections involves a version of whack-a-mole that is reminiscent of efforts by social media sites to keep the same bad actors from using their services. The Reuters story gets into the details, but essentially it boils down to supply and demand: There’s plenty of both and no shortage of individuals willing to make a buck off the situation.

The entire effort seems doomed from the start.

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