Protection of Basic Human Rights in the Application of Big Data to Counter Terrorism
April 07,2020   By:CSHRS
Protection of Basic Human Rights in the Application of Big Data to Counter Terrorism
XIA Yu* & QI Yanping**
Abstract: In the era of big data, the ways people work, live and think have changed dramatically, and the social governance system is also being restructured. Achieving intelligent social governance has now become a national strategy. The application of big data technology to counterterrorism efforts has become a powerful weapon for all countries. However, due to the uncertainty, difficulty of interpretation and potential risk of discrimination in big data technology and algorithm models, basic human rights, freedom and even ethics are likely to be impacted and challenged. As a result, there is an urgent need to prioritize basic human rights and regulate the application of big data for counter terrorism purposes. The legislation and law enforcement regarding the use of big data to counter terrorism must be subject to constitutional and other legal reviews, so as to strike a balance between safeguarding national security and protecting basic human rights.
Keywords: the application of big data to counter terrorism   algorithm discrimination   national security   basic human rights   the principle of balance
The spread and escalation of terrorism in various regions have led to increasing multinational anti-terrorism efforts. Terrorist organizations such as the nefarious al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese “doomsday cult, Hamas, Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations, have launched many terrorist attacks worldwide, causing much loss of life and indeli-ble psychological damage on people across the world. The 9/11 incident in the United States, the attacks on U.S. embassies, the Moscow theater hostage incident, the Bali bombings, the Madrid train bombing, the hijacking incident in Ethiopia, the 7/7 bomb attacks in the United Kingdom, the three terrorist events in China including the 2013 Tiananmen Square terrorist attack in Beijing, the 2014 bombing in Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and the 2014 Kunming railway station terrorist attack, as well as numerous other similar cases are typical of terrorist attacks. Terrorism has become a global problem, a barrier to peaceful development and the development of a community with a shared future for human beings, and a major threat to international peace and security.
Terrorism is a common enemy of all mankind. Terrorist attacks are immensely destructive and shocking, cause social panic, and endanger people’s personal safety, property and public security. The harm of terrorist activities falls into two categories: The first is visible harm they do, that is, destruction of economic, social and political order and personal property through violent actions. The other is the invisible harm, that is, the psychological impact on people and destruction of their spirit. Visible harm can be measured, evaluated, and remedied over a span of time, however, the impact on the spirit of people and psychological damage, are difficult to evaluate and remedy. In contrast, the invisible harm is more serious. Survivors of violent terrorist activities often live with psychological scars for the rest of their lives.
Anti-terrorism activities are not restricted by borders. In today’s world, due to the angry challenge to post World War order by countries such as the United States, countries have been incessantly arguing on international political and regional issues, such as human rights, trade, environmental protection, arms control, etc. However, there is strong consensus on the need to combat terrorism. Terrorism threatens people everywhere. As a result, there is more cohesive international cooperation on anti-terrorism activities. Even the United States, a superpower that pursues a unilateral policy, is no exception. All countries feel a sense of urgency on the issue of terrorism and have found an opportunity for cooperation based on their own interests.
Big data has now become a new tool in the field of anti-terrorism activities. All countries utilize big data to counter terrorism. Despite a certain level of success in utilizing big data in the field of anti-terrorism activities, doing so is also highly likely to violate basic human rights. For this reason, this paper briefly sorts and analyzes sev-eral fields where the application of big data to counter terrorism may infringe on basic human rights, and proposes some opinions with the hope of contributing to bettering big data’s use in anti-terrorism activities.
I. The Application of Big Data to Counter Terrorism is Increasing
Undoubtedly, human society has now entered an era where everything is connected and shared, leveraging big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, the internet of things and other innovative technologies. Terrorists are using social networking platforms to recruit members and utilizing emerging technologies to arm themselves and launch terrorist attacks. The governments of various countries are also trying to use big data to prevent, tackle and counter terrorism, making big data an indispensable and effective weapon against terrorism. “Today, no one can do anything without the internet, and terrorists are no exception. Since terrorists use the internet, it is impera-tive that countries use big data analysis to counter terrorism.”1
The effectiveness of big data in countering terrorism cannot be compared to traditional means. At present, it has been deeply integrated into all aspects of anti-terrorism
activities. Instead of relying on a small amount of accurate, high-value and causal information, big data involves all relevant and random data related to potential terrorist acts, including data from Twitter, Facebook, Vine, YouTube, WeChat, QQ and other social networking platforms. Types of data include call records, shopping lists, travel records, e-mail, online chat records, videos, pictures, micro-blogging information, etc., as well as unusual purchase data, records of relocation into sensitive areas and other data related to extremist activities. By tracking the source of funding of terrorist activities, the authorities can recover, seize, freeze or confiscate such assets, to cut off financial support for terrorist activities. By analyzing earlier behavior of suspected persons to determine whether they will carry out terrorist activities, authorities can find hidden information and figure out the possible actions of terrorists and respond quickly. For example, the Boston police arrested the terrorists who carried out the marathon bombing in only four days. Israel utilizes big data to accurately track down the leaders of terrorist groups such as Hamas and implement “targeted elimination” plans.
As Wu Hequan has said, “Terrorists are bound to leave behind clues before they commit any action. We may not be able to refine the data to the extent of establishing an archive for everyone, but through continuous collection and accumulation of data, we can track and link some activity in everyone’s daily lives to their future actions. Terrorists are highly dissatisfied by society, and express their views through many mediums such as micro blogs, WeChat, etc.”2Anti-terrorism authorities apply big data to monitor suspected terrorists’ actions, predict the possible time and place of a terrorist attack, and take preventive and preemptive action, greatly improving the efficiency and effectiveness of counter-terrorism efforts. For example, the “POLE data model” developed by European governments, the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative” of the US government, the “Palantir Gotham” platform from Silicon Valley in the United States. the “Crowd Optical” platform, the “Tableau” software, the “Big Data Management System” of Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments Company (a subsidiary of Tawazum Holding), and the “Big Data Counter-terrorism Research Center” established by China-SCO International Judicial Exchange and Cooperation Training Center (China-SCO Center) can help in the application of big data to counter terrorism work, monitor “people flows, logistics, information flows, capital flows, etc.” of suspected terrorists, and so prevent potential terrorist attacks.
Big data algorithms overcome the limitations of human abilities in analyzing and processing information in traditional anti-terrorism activities, greatly save time in data analysis, solve the problem of anti-terrorism information lag, reduce processing costs, improve processing timeliness and accuracy, and overcome the limitations of human vulnerability to prejudice. “In fact, big data may offer a fresh look and new insights precisely because it is unencumbered by conventional thinking and inherent biases implicit in the theories of a specific field.”3 In view of its huge advantages, the application of big data to counter terrorism has become an important means and tool for countries around the world. It analyzes the information obtained by various intelli-gence agencies, state organizations, internet enterprises and other relevant institutions, to identify and forecast terrorist activities, tracks terrorist suspects, and so effectively prevent terrorist attacks. To a certain extent, big data has compressed the scope and space for terrorists and terrorist organizations, and has made great contributions to countering terrorism.
II. Basic Human Rights Risks in the Application of Big Data to Counter Terrorism
The application of big data to counter terrorism has become “a powerful weapon” in contemporary anti-terrorism activities. However, while the application of big data to obtain information on suspects, relevant authorities also collect and process the data of ordinary citizens, likely violating the basic human rights of ordinary people. The legal ramifications of the application of big data to counter terrorism come from expanding the scope of data investigation of criminal suspects to the information mining of ordinary citizens. The legal problems in the procedures related to the application of big data focus on the legality of data collection, concealment of sensitive information, etc.4 In applying big data to anti-terrorism activities, the design defects of big data and its algorithm models, the “black box algorithm” problem, and the historical defects of data flow are likely to result in uncertainty, difficulty of interpretation and risk of discrimination or bias of the mined results, which could lead to an imbalance between the application of big data to countering terrorism and protecting the basic rights of citizens, especially the rights of privacy, of personal property and freedom from discrimination.
A. Citizens’ right to privacy faces challenges
The application of big data to anti-terrorism activities, risks infringing on citizens’ right to privacy. In the information age, privacy protection is based on the rule of “informed consent”. Nowadays, the limitations of “informed consent” are increas-ingly apparent. Whether it is the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union, the personal information protection system of China or the privacy protection system of the United States, it is quite difficult to adhere to this rule. In applying Big Data to anti-terrorism activities, as the technology is used by national security, police and special powerful anti-terrorism departments, which are protected by special laws in their application of this technology, it is relatively easy to avoid constitutional review and other legal reviews. Due to this, there is a serious risk to the infringement of privacy rights in the field of anti-terrorism, and this was proven to be so by Edward Snowden when he exposed the United States’ “PRISM” surveillance program.
Is it possible that the application of big data in anti-terrorism activities can lead to its abuse in mining and analyzing personal information? This is a matter of concern. In applying big data to anti-terrorism activities, the criteria to judge whether someone is guilty and whether to take corresponding measures are all based on data. Applied properly, big data can play an active role countering terrorism, however, there is a serious risk that it can be used as a tool by those in power to violate people’s rights.
The US surveillance program “PRISM”, is closely related to the application of big data to anti-terrorism activities, and reflects the contradiction between applying big data to countering terrorism and the protection of privacy. According to Edward Snowden’s disclosures, the National Security Agency is the world’s largest snooping organization. Using the PRISM platform, the NSA was able to access a large number of personal chat records, e-mails, personal social networking data, photos and videos, etc., conduct in-depth monitoring of real-time communication, ongoing network search content and stored data, and its snooping activities have not been limited to the United States, but have spread to other countries. It can also directly access data on the servers of science and technology companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Apple, and others. It also requires relevant enterprises to provide decryption keys to national security departments when necessary, so that the latter can access their encrypted information, and any violator of this requirement, will be fined. The application of big data in anti-terrorism activities, fully leverages the massive amount of information recorded and stored by various intelligence agencies, commercial organizations, government agencies and other departments, as well as instant communication data. By analyzing and obtaining effective information, it support anti-terrorism activities. However, if the intelligence agencies arbitrarily obtain and spy on personal information in the name of countering terrorism, it can easily lead to a blurring of the boundary between public security and personal privacy.
Therefore, although the application of big data to anti-terrorism activities is con-ducive to predicting and monitoring dangerous acts of terrorists, it can also seriously violate the privacy, rights and interests of individuals. The justifications given in the name of countering terrorism cannot eliminate the possibility of infringement of personal privacy. Balancing citizens’ privacy, public interests and national interests therefore faces new challenges. If the relationship between applying big data to anti-terror-ism activities and the protection of privacy is not well coordinated, the application of big data, despite its significant role in countering terrorism, will also lead to people’s dissatisfaction and protests.
B. Citizens’ rights to personal safety and property face challenges
The abuse of big data in counterterrorism work may lead to improper interference in citizens’ freedom of movement, life and liberty and safety of property. In law, traditional crimes are punished after a crime is committed. However, because of the extremely destructive force and the terrible consequences of violent terrorist acts, preventive measures remain the best policy. The application of big data to counter terrorism, forecasts people’s behavior by analyzing massive amounts of existing data. It aims to predict and evaluate risks, with the purpose of mitigating risks. The prediction objects when big data is applied to counter terrorism, include not only terrorist suspects, but also ordinary people. The personal activity information and social network information of ordinary people are collected and processed as big data. Relevant authorities utilize the big data analysis results to predict whether someone may commit terrorist attacks or other violent crimes, intensify investigations against such suspects, limit the freedom of suspects in advance, and carry out preventive seizure and freezing of suspects’ properties, as well as of those people who are related to the suspects. These anti-terrorism measures may trigger issues regarding constitutionality and legitimacy. In fact, these suspects are investigated not for the criminal acts they have committed but possible future acts or tendencies toward violence. That is, violent acts may or may not happen in the future. Violent criminal acts may not occur, but such suspects are labeled as “security risks” and closely investigated and monitored by relevant authorities. When big data is applied to counter terrorism with respect to border control, customs inspection, police law enforcement and criminal justice, these suspects are likely to be treated unfairly, and even face improper restrictions and infringements of their personal and property rights.
In applying big data to prevent terrorism, the way behavior and responsibilities are evaluated, are no longer based on the actor’s free choices and behavior that has occurred, but are in fact based on a possible, future-oriented and biased judgment. Therefore, if the application of big data in counterterrorism activities is not properly handled and goes beyond necessary boundaries, it is likely to cause “loss” and “panic” throughout society. How to realize a balance between the application of big data to countering terrorism and protecting citizens’ rights to personal safety and property is an issue that needs to be further discussed.
C. Citizens’ right to freedom from discrimination faces challenges
The effect of the application of big data to countering terrorism is closely related to the development of big data technology. With the ongoing development of big data technology, we are more and more dependent on big data and our actions are controlled by digital models. Theoretically, big data algorithm models can achieve better equality between people because of their objectiveness and neutrality, because everyone is judged based on the same models and rules. However, in practice, “variations” may occur, wherein the algorithms are abused by the authorities. The characteristics of the algorithm, such as opacity, professionalism, and difficulty of interpretation, may be used to treat people differently, thus expanding social injustice and creating new social discrimination. For example, the “COMPAS” risk assessment software devel-oped by a company in the United States can be used as an algorithm model for risk as-sessment, to improve the fairness and efficiency of judges. However, according to this algorithm model, the probability of crimes committed by black people is significantly higher than that by white people. The risk assessment results based on this algorithm technology are thus inherently discriminatory.
In applying big data to anti-terrorism activities, data errors and incompleteness, or a defect in the algorithm design may lead to deviations in the analysis and prediction results. Due to incorrect or incomplete data and biased algorithm models, anti-terrorism organizations may end up predicting that some people are more likely to carry out terrorist activities than others. They will then treat these people differently from others and divide them into different groups, and implement different monitoring standards. What’s more alarming is that due to big data, discrimination in fact increases. “If we don’t wrest back a measure of control, these future digital weapons of mass destruction may become increasingly powerful. They’ll end up controlling us, and we will not even realize it.”5 Especially, in the current anti-terrorism situation, a big data-based prediction is only data-based inference, and not necessarily a confirmation that an individual is a suspect. When this big data algorithm based prediction results are used to treat people differently, there is increasing risk of discrimination. The issue of “intensified discrimination” caused by algorithm discrimination is particularly worthy of reflection.
III. Protection of Basic Human Rights When Big Data is Applied to Anti-Terrorism Activities
The application of big data to anti-terrorism activities may impact and challenge basic human rights, freedom and even human ethics. We must study and take preemptive action to prevent possible risk of basic human rights violations. At any time, protecting basic human rights is always the starting point and goal for state organizations to initiate various behavior.
The application of big data to anti-terrorism activities must adhere to the principle of prioritizing basic human rights. The abuse of big data technology and the rapid expansion of public power in anti-terrorism may infringe upon citizens’ privacy and property rights, interfere with citizens’ freedoms, and strengthen discrimination, thus leading to serious human rights problems. The application of big data to countering terrorism involves a contradiction between safeguarding public security and protecting citizens’ basic human rights. Most countries prioritize public security before protecting citizens’ basic human rights. The degree of protection of citizens’ basic human rights reflects the degree of civilization development in a modern society. How to maximally protect basic human rights is a question that must be considered.
Article 4 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations clearly stipulates the non-derogable rights of human beings — the right to life, the right to be free from torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to be free from slavery or servitude, the right to be free from ret-roactive application of penal laws, the right to human dignity and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, among others. According to this provision, even when a state is faced with a public emergency that threatens its existence, the non-derogable rights of human beings cannot be restricted or violated. In addition, this covenant allows state parties to derogate some other basic rights of citizens in specific circumstances, that is, restrict certain rights when the state is facing a particularly serious and critical emergency. However, the derogation of civil rights is a permitted option only when there is no other choice. “Such restrictions of civil rights and freedoms must a temporary suspension of such rights to eliminate the crisis.”7At the same time, we should abide by extremely strict procedures, formulate strict review standards, and accept the constitutional review and other legal reviews. The non-derogable rights are basic rights and minimum standards for humanity.
Non-derogable rights are also applicable in the application of big data to anti-terrorism activities and should become the basis and standard. To balance basic human rights and public security, in terms of non-derogable basic human rights, we should always adhere to the principle of prioritizing basic human rights, enforcing the law and countering terrorism according to law, and strengthening international cooperation.
A. Application of big data to countering terrorism must have a legal basis
Despite being a special action against special violent acts and extremist behavior, the application of big data to counter terrorism must comply with the provisions of relevant laws. There are two main development approaches against terrorist activities at present: First, special anti-terrorism laws are formulated and supplemented by other laws. Most of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Russia, France, the United States, China and other countries, take this approach. Second, there is no special anti-terrorism law, and legal provisions related to anti-terrorism are scattered throughout different laws. This approach is taken by countries such as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and other countries. In comparison, special anti-terrorism legislation has distinct advantages, as it can effectively help make timely decisions against a terrorist situation, help improve the effectiveness of anti-terrorism activities, and conform to the trend and needs of anti-terrorism activities.
Countries across the world have enacted anti-terrorism laws to clarify the boundaries of the use of public power in anti-terrorism activities and to limit the use of military power. Directly influenced by the 9/11 attacks, the United States passed the USA Patriot Act, Homeland Security Act and other laws successively, and set up a special United States Department of Homeland Security to protect the United States and the security and fundamental rights of its citizens. The European Union’s anti-terrorism law focuses on criminal justice cooperation, having successively formulated legal documents such as the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on Combating Terrorism, the European Security Strategy, the Declaration on Combating Terrorism, the European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive and Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on Combating terrorism and others. It focuses on crisis prevention while strengthening anti-terrorism efforts and intensity. After the Bali bombings, Indonesia enacted the Anti-Terrorism Law No. 15 (2003)8 to crack down on terrorism; Indonesia’s parliament passed an amendment to this law in May 2018. The latest revised law increases advance prevention and detection of terrorism, economic compensation after the event and has other provisions, effectively resolving the serious limitation of the original law, which limited action only after the threat was real or the attack had already occurred. Malay-sia passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 in 2015, which also strengthened the preemptive supervision and prevention of terrorist activities, to deal with the threats of terrorist extremism in the country. Other ASEAN countries have adopted similar strategies.9
The bus bomb in the southern Russian city of Volgograd prompted Russia to in-crease its anti-terrorism efforts. After more than a decade of continuous development, Russia has formed a relatively complete anti-terrorism legal system. The Law on New Measures to Combat Terrorism signed by President Vladimir Putin in October 2013 is known as “the most stringent anti-terrorism bill in Russian history”10. In addition, the Law to Counter the Legalization of Illegal Income (money laundering) and the Financing of Terrorism has strengthened the monitoring of terrorism financing. China has also formulated a series of domestic anti-terrorism laws in response to terrorist attacks. On October 29, 2011, at the 23rd Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eleventh National People’s Congress passed the Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Issues Related to Strengthening Counterterrorism Work, which is the first official legal document of China specializing in counter-ing terrorism. Measures for Administration of Anti-money-Laundry and Anti-terrorism by Payment Institutions issued by the People’s Bank of China on March 5, 2012 is a standard document for preventing money laundering and terrorist financing activities and regulating financial order; the Counterterrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China was passed on December 27, 2015 and implemented from January 1, 2016 onward. In addition to these special anti-terrorism legal norms, legal provisions on anti-terrorism are also present in the Criminal Law, the Criminal Procedure Law, the Law of the People’s Armed Police, the Anti-Money Laundering Law, the Martial Law and other legal documents. In addition, recently, the Data Security Management Measures (Draft for Comments) formulated by the Cyberspace Administration of China has solicited opinions from the public. It is believed that it will be officially promulgated and implemented soon. It has detailed regulations on data collection, use and processing, safety supervision and management, as well as on personal information and important data. The Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China and other legal provisions can provide a legal basis and action guide for the application of big data to countering terrorism.
The relevant requirements of the application of big data to countering terrorism are all integrated into the corresponding anti-terrorism laws. These special anti-terror-ism laws provide for the collection, storage, transmission, monitoring, processing and analysis of personal information, as well as anti-terrorism emergency plans and relief measures after the event, in case of misjudgments, as well as the legal punishments for terrorists. These provide the basis, principles and standards for the application of dig data to anti-terrorism activities. Therefore, in applying big data to counter terrorism, the acquisition, analysis and processing of basic personal information need to be strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and other laws. No acts should be implemented without corresponding provisions in the laws. Citizens’ basic human rights should be strictly protected and infringement of citizens’ basic human rights in the name of anti-terrorism should be prevented.
B. Application of big data to anti-terrorism activities must be subject to constitutional and other legal reviews
Cyberspace is not a place beyond laws, it is an extension and embodiment of the real society in the virtual world. The application of big data to anti-terrorism activities cannot be beyond the scope of the law due to the particularity of “anti-terrorism” work. All policies, measures and actions related to the application of big data to anti-terrorism activities will ultimately be subject to constitutional and other legal reviews, which is a basic requirement of a country ruled by law. However, due to the particularity of anti-terrorism and the uncertainty and risks of the newly developing big data technology, the constitutional and other legal reviews related to this, are new research topics.
In applying big data to countering terrorism, we should not only act strictly in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and other laws, but also comply with relevant procedural provisions to prevent alienation of the application of big data to countering terrorism in data collection, use, analysis and prediction. When analyzing the big data results, we should check whether the data sources are reasonable and legal, and ensure the accuracy and comprehensiveness of data, so as to prevent discrimination in decision- making caused by data deviation, increase in inequality between social groups, and affect fairness and justice in society. When data analysis leads to predictive conclusions, it is necessary to repeatedly verify the results, so as to protect the basic human rights of individuals, and key personal information should be processed using fuzzy logic, and aggregated and anonymous data. As a result, queries from large databases show only similar results instead of accurate ones, which makes it extremely difficult and time-consuming to mine the relationship between specific individuals and specific data, so as to eliminate any exploiting others’ privacy. It is necessary to empower rights holders and provide them relief channels to correct, delete, appeal against, and to receive compensation and other necessary relief measures when their rights and interests are damaged due to data errors, incompleteness, algorithm design defects, etc., and we should firmly say “no” to data collectors who violate people’s rights and interests. The detention, interrogation and other criminal interrogation measures of terrorist suspects must be reasonable and lawful. All in all, the entire process of applying big data to anti-terrorism activities must be based on the law, otherwise relevant authorities or related parties can raise objections to the appropriate judicial organization, which will then review and judge whether the punishment is in violation of the constitution or other laws.
Countries should set up special anti-terrorism institutions furnished with special and comprehensive personnel to apply big data to anti-terrorism activities. These anti-terrorism personnel should not only master big data technology to flexibly apply big data to countering terrorism, but should also be familiar with relevant laws and regulations, and should exercise power and perform duties strictly in accordance with anti-terrorism laws. We should improve the scientific and technological skills and legal literacy of anti-terrorism personnel. At the same time, we should set up special supervision institutions, give full play to the supervisory role of the media, citizens and social groups, supervise the acts of anti-terrorism institutions, data operators, enterprises and other subjects, investigate acts in violation of the constitution or other laws, and resolutely prevent the violation of citizen’s basic human rights in the name of anti-terrorism.
C. International cooperation must be strengthened for application of big data in anti-terrorism activities
As the largest, most authoritative and neutral international organization in the world, the United Nations plays an important role in maintaining world peace and se-curity, economic development and social progress. Since its establishment, the United Nations has formulated the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Strategy, the United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, the Review of the United Nations Global Counterterrorism Strategy, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other resolutions and covenants to suppress terrorist acts, as well as the Charter of the United Nations. It shoulders the mission of maintaining world peace and development. These resolutions and covenants provide a basis for international law to guide international anti-terrorism and prevention of extremism work. In addition, the United Nations peacekeeping forces have combated many terrorist attacks and made outstanding contributions to countering terrorism and maintaining world peace and stability. On June 15, 2017, the United Nations decided to restructure its anti-terrorism framework and establish a United Nations anti-terrorism office to coordinate the implementation of anti-terrorism activities of the United Nations. This is of great significance for preventing terrorism and violent extremism.
In view of the transnational, catastrophic, uncertain and sudden features of terrorism, countries around the world need to expedite international cooperation in anti-terrorism activities. With the 9/11 incident, the Sinai bombing incident and the Paris terrorist attack incident as the triggers, European countries and the United States have cooperated in the field of anti-terrorism. But the preemptive military strikes of the United States after 9/11, have been criticized by many parties. The essence of these strikes is to realize the United States’ ambition and strategic intention in the name of anti-terrorism, leading to tension in some regions and intensification of traditional security issues. However, with the continuous development of multipolarity in the world, the United States has also changed its foreign policy and gradually participated in international cooperation and reconstruction of international alliances. For example, the US government has participated in and supported activities such as the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, National Strategy for Counterterrorism, Partnership for Regional East African Counterterrorism, “Multinational Joint Task Force, and other activities. However, these measures still cannot liberate the United States from the vicious circle of generating more terrorism with its anti-terrorism efforts and cannot easily reverse the passivity of the United States in global anti-terrorism efforts, nor change the essential characteristics of US hegemonism.
In the context of cooperation initiatives — the Belt and Road Initiative and building a community with a shared future for human beings, and taking into account the complexity of the countries along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative — anti-terrorism and counter-extremism work are top priorities for the Chinese government. China has been actively cooperating with countries and international organizations to counter terrorism. China has participated in APEC, ASEM, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China Arab Cooperation Forum and other bilateral or multilateral cooperation platforms, and signed or participated in the issuance of the Convention on Counterterrorism of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, the Declaration and Cooperation Plan on Cooperation against International Terrorism, the Joint Declaration of ASEAN and China Cooperation in the Field of Non-traditional Security Issues, the ASEAN-China Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Non-traditional Security Issues, the Communiqué of the China Arab Cooperation Forum and BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration, and other covenants, agreements or documents. These international instruments have led to a consensus on key issues such as anti-terrorism cooperation, and called for the establishment of a wide-ranging global anti-terrorism alliance, which provides the legal basis and action guide for transnational anti-terrorism activities and the maintenance of international order. In the field of international cooperation on anti-terrorism, China has set up an initial framework for international cooperation on anti-terrorism and established regional international legal systems and mechanisms, such as cooperation with member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the international anti-terrorism mechanism, based on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.11
Countering terrorism is in the interests of all humanity. It is not something that can be solved by an individual country alone that pursues unilateralism and hegemonism. Big data is a powerful weapon in the war against terrorism and provides a new platform and channel for exchanges and cooperation among countries of the world. To effectively curb the development of terrorism, it is imperative to connect domestic anti-terrorism laws with international anti-terrorism conventions, as well as to use the opportunities of global and regional international cooperation platforms to strengthen bilateral or multilateral cooperation, and promote the rule of law in multi-level regional anti-terrorism cooperation mechanisms. “There is no doubt that only through multilateral cooperation can countries in the world effectively contain terrorism and maintain world peace and stability. Unilateral acts, which rely on brutality, abuse of force and disregard the role of the United Nations and the norms of international relations, can only lead to more security crises.”12 Therefore, strengthening international cooperation on the application of big data in anti-terrorism activities is in line with the practical needs of all countries with respect to countering terrorism.
IV. Conclusion
Big data is a powerful weapon for countering terrorism. The application of big data technology for countering terrorism is an irreversible and irresistible trend. However, in doing so, we cannot blindly believe in the power and potential of big data and ignore its potential to violate citizens’ basic human rights. The right approach is to not only give full play to the role of big data in countering terrorism, but to also to reduce to the maximum any violation of basic human rights of citizens. In applying dig data to anti-terrorism activities, therefore, we should unswervingly adhere to the principle of prioritizing basic human rights, and this should be a line that we do not cross. At the same time, we should act strictly in accordance with relevant provisions of the Constitution and other laws, and all actions should accept constitutional and other legal review. We should continue to strengthen international cooperation and protect citizens’ basic rights from being trampled over and violated by public power while pursuing the anti-terrorism goal, so as to truly achieve a balance between safeguarding national security and protecting basic human rights.
(Translated by PAN Yingzhao)
*XIA Yu ( 夏雨 ), Doctoral Candidate, Intelligent Technology Research Center, School of law, Beijing Institute of Technology.
**QI Yanping ( 齐延平 ), Professor, Director of MIIT Key Laboratory of Intelligent Technology Risks Legal Prevention and Control, School of Law, Beijing Institute of Technology.
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5.Cathy O’Neil, Weapons of Mass Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy,
trans. Ma Qingling (Beijing: CITIC Press Group, 2018), 201.
6.Article 4 of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “1.In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin. 2. No derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs 1 and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18 may be made under this provision.” For a detailed discussion of non-derogable rights, see Wang Zhenjun, “Non-derogable Rights and their Functions from the Perspective of Rights Restriction”, Journal of Dalian University of Technology (Social Sciences) 3 (2009): 66-71; Gong Renren, “Non-derogable Rights and Rules of Customary Law”, Global Law Review 1 (2010): 5-13; Wang Zhenjun, “On the Non-derogable princi-ple of the Legal System in a State of Emergency”, Hebei Law Science 9 (2012): 38-44.
7.Wang Zhenjun, “Non-derogable Rights and their Functions from the Perspective of Rights Restriction”, Journal of Dalian University of Technology (Social Sciences) 3 (2009): 95.
8.Indonesia’s Anti-Terrorism Law No. 15 (2003) was enacted in 2003. On May 25th, 2018, Indonesia’s parliament passed an amendment to The Anti-Terrorism Law. Compared with the anti-terrorism law of 2003, the amendment gives law enforcement units and personnel greater authority in countering terrorism, allows them to take preemptive actions against suspected terrorists, extends the detention periods for suspects, and allows the Indonesian national army to participate in anti-terrorism activities. Specifically added are content regard-ing prevention, investigation, monitoring, terrorist transformation and other aspects. Relevant provisions on compensation for casualties and economic losses in the case of terrorist events are included.
9.The Human Security Act of 2007 (RA 9372) enacted by the Philippines in 2007 is its first special anti-terrorism law; Brunei’s anti-terrorism order titled Anti-Terrorism Order 2011 was issued in 2011 and revised in 2012; Singapore’s The Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act; Cambodia’s The Law on Counter Terrorism and The Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism in 2007, among others.
10.Wen Sha, “After the promulgation of the most stringent anti-terrorism Act in Russian history”, China Youth Online, August 10, 2016.
11.Xu Junhua, “The International Law Strategy of China’s International Cooperation against Terrorism under the Background of ‘the Belt and Road Initiative’”, Law Review 1 (2019): 141.
12.Zhang Yao and others: “Experts on International Cooperation for Counter-Terrorism and the World Pattern Discuss on the Impact and Influence of the ‘9/11’ incident”, Wenwei Po, September 17, 2002.
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