CTIRU statistical methodology

Open Rights Group made this Freedom of Information request to Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Open Rights Group

Dear Metropolitan Police Service (MPS),

Could you please send me information about the methodology used to calculate the figures supplied by CTIRU to Parliament and elsewhere, stating that you have removed over 304,000 “pieces” of terrorist content.

According to transparency reports at Google, Automattic (Wordpress), Oath (Yahoo) and Twitter, much smaller volumes of requests have been received. Each record annual figures in the low hundreds or less, of non-compulsory UK government requests such as yours.

Google also submit redacted requests to the Lumen database, showing each CTIRU request as containing URLs they have then removed or restricted access to. These generally show a small number of URLs they have removed.

We would expect the biggest volumes of requests to have been made to Google and Twitter.

Thus we are finding it hard to reconcile the platform transparency reports with CTIRU’s headline figures.

Understanding the methodology behind the CTIRU figure should not pose any threat to national security or to crime prevention. It should merely explain what CTIRU mean by a “removal” and a “piece of content”. This would greatly aid understanding of what CTIRU are doing.

Conversely, the statistic of “pieces of content” without the methodology has little practical meaning and could be highly misleading. Thus, assuming that the statistic exists in order to give minimum transparency to Parliament and the public, we believe that it follows that the methodology should be released in order that the statistic of “pieces of content” removed by CTIRU is a meaningful measure of its activity.

We imagine that there is a manual or guide to recording, or policy document describing how to record the figures; or perhaps a software tool that provides the numbers, which would have configuration settings which would provide the methodology.

Yours faithfully,

Jim Killock
Open Rights Group

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Killock

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2018040001027

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 23/04/2018.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

"Could you please send me information about the methodology used to
calculate the figures supplied by CTIRU to Parliament and elsewhere,
stating that you have removed over 304,000 "pieces" of terrorist content.

According to transparency reports at Google, Automattic (Wordpress), Oath
(Yahoo) and Twitter, much smaller volumes of requests have been received.
Each record annual figures in the low hundreds or less, of non-compulsory
UK government requests such as yours.

Google also submit redacted requests to the Lumen database, showing each
CTIRU request as containing URLs they have then removed or restricted
access to. These generally show a small number of URLs they have removed.

We would expect the biggest volumes of requests to have been made to
Google and Twitter.

Thus we are finding it hard to reconcile the platform transparency reports
with CTIRU's headline figures.

Understanding the methodology behind the CTIRU figure should not pose any
threat to national security or to crime prevention. It should merely
explain what CTIRU mean by a "removal" and a "piece of content". This
would greatly aid understanding of what CTIRU are doing.

Conversely, the statistic of "pieces of content" without the methodology
has little practical meaning and could be highly misleading. Thus,
assuming that the statistic exists in order to give minimum transparency
to Parliament and the public, we believe that it follows that the
methodology should be released in order that the statistic of "pieces of
content" removed by CTIRU is a meaningful measure of its activity.

We imagine that there is a manual or guide to recording, or policy
document describing how to record the figures; or perhaps a software tool
that provides the numbers, which would have configuration settings which
would provide the methodology."

Your request will now be considered in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act).  You will receive a response within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act.  

If you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please contact
us at [email address] or on the phone at 0207 161 3500, quoting the
reference number above. Should your enquiry relate to the logging or
allocations process we will be able to assist you directly and where your
enquiry relates to other matters (such as the status of the request) we
will be able to pass on a message and/or advise you of the relevant
contact details.

Yours sincerely

R. Loizou
Support Officer - Freedom of Information Triage Team
 
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Information Rights Unit
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively, write to or
phone:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 0303 123 1113

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

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Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Killock

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2018040001027

Please accept my apologies for the late notification, I write in
connection with your request for information which was received by the
Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 23/04/2018.  

I am sorry to advise that we are unable to provide you with a suitable
response within the 20 working days stipulated by the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (the Act).  

Your response has been drafted and will need to undergo a stringent
approval process. I will be out of the office next week and it is unlikely
that this process will be complete by the end of this week.

As a result, I do not anticipate being able to provide you with your
response until the week commencing 04/06/2018.

Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience that this delay may
cause.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me via email at [email address], quoting the
reference number above.

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Your attention is drawn to the attached sheet, which details your right of
complaint.

Yours sincerely

C. Gayle-Petrou
Information Manager

COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Information Rights Unit
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively, phone or
write to:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone:  01625 545 745
 

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: [1]https://m.facebook.com/metpoliceuk

Twitter: @metpoliceuk

References

Visible links
1. https://m.facebook.com/metpoliceuk

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Dear Mr Killock

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2018040001027

I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 23/04/2018.  I note you seek
access to the following information:

Could you please send me information about the methodology used to
calculate the figures supplied by CTIRU to Parliament and elsewhere,
stating that you have removed over 304,000 “pieces” of terrorist content.

According to transparency reports at Google, Automattic (Wordpress), Oath
(Yahoo) and Twitter, much smaller volumes of requests have been received.
Each record annual figures in the low hundreds or less, of non-compulsory
UK government requests such as yours.

Google also submit redacted requests to the Lumen database, showing each
CTIRU request as containing URLs they have then removed or restricted
access to. These generally show a small number of URLs they have removed.

We would expect the biggest volumes of requests to have been made to
Google and Twitter.

Thus we are finding it hard to reconcile the platform transparency reports
with CTIRU’s headline figures.

Understanding the methodology behind the CTIRU figure should not pose any
threat to national security or to crime prevention. It should merely
explain what CTIRU mean by a “removal” and a “piece of content”. This
would greatly aid understanding of what CTIRU are doing.

Conversely, the statistic of “pieces of content” without the methodology
has little practical meaning and could be highly misleading. Thus,
assuming that the statistic exists in order to give minimum transparency
to Parliament and the public, we believe that it follows that the
methodology should be released in order that the statistic of “pieces of
content” removed by CTIRU is a meaningful measure of its activity.

We imagine that there is a manual or guide to recording, or policy
document describing how to record the figures; or perhaps a software tool
that provides the numbers, which would have configuration settings which
would provide the methodology.

SEARCHES TO LOCATE INFORMATION

To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted
at the Counter Terrorism Command.  The searches located information
relevant to your request.

DECISION

I have today decided to disclose the located information to you in full.

Please find below information pursuant to your request above.

‘Since 2010 the CTIRU have flagged material concerning online terrorism to
over 300 websites, domain name providers and website hosting companies.
Terrorist groups use a variety of online locations to house their
propaganda. In relation to terrorist magazines, videos and other content –
these are often uploaded to file sharing websites located all around the
world.  

The CTIRU count removals based on the removal of a URL that we have
referred to that website. Once the content has been removed it is counted
as a removal.

In the case of a website hosting a terrorist magazine featuring bomb
making instruction, or a music file or image inciting murder - these would
all be counted as 1 takedown.

A terrorist group may circulate one product (terrorist magazine or video)
– this same product may be uploaded to 100 different file sharing
websites. The CTIRU would make contact with all 100 file sharing websites
and if all 100 were removed, the CTIRU would count this as 100 removals.’

With regards to the final part of your query where you have referred to a
manual or guide to recording, or policy document describing how to record
the figures; or perhaps a software tool that provides the numbers, which
would have configuration settings which would provide the methodology.
 Please be advised that no documentation exists, but rather a computer
generated model of counting figures.

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me via email at [email address], quoting the
reference number above.

Yours sincerely

C. Gayle-Petrou
Information Manager

In complying with their statutory duty under sections 1 and 11 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 to release the enclosed information, the
Metropolitan Police Service will not breach the Copyright, Designs and
Patents Act 1988. However, the rights of the copyright owner of the
enclosed information will continue to be protected by law.  Applications
for the copyright owner's written permission to reproduce any part of the
attached information should be addressed to MPS Directorate of Legal
Services, 10 Lambs Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3NR.
 
COMPLAINT RIGHTS

Are you unhappy with how your request has been handled or do you think the
decision is incorrect?

You have the right to require the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to
review their decision.

Prior to lodging a formal complaint you are welcome to discuss the
response with the case officer who dealt with your request.  

Complaint

If you are dissatisfied with the handling procedures or the decision of
the MPS made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) regarding
access to information you can lodge a complaint with the MPS to have the
decision reviewed.

Complaints should be made in writing, within forty (40) working days from
the date of the refusal notice, and addressed to:

FOI Complaint
Information Rights Unit
PO Box 57192
London
SW6 1SF
[email address]

In all possible circumstances the MPS will aim to respond to your
complaint within 20 working days.

The Information Commissioner

After lodging a complaint with the MPS if you are still dissatisfied with
the decision you may make application to the Information Commissioner for
a decision on whether the request for information has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act.

For information on how to make application to the Information Commissioner
please visit their website at www.ico.org.uk.  Alternatively, write to or
phone:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Phone: 0303 123 1113

Consider our environment - please do not print this email unless
absolutely necessary.

NOTICE - This email and any attachments may be confidential, subject to
copyright and/or legal privilege and are intended solely for the use of
the intended recipient. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and delete it from your system.  To avoid incurring
legal liabilities, you must not distribute or copy the information in this
email without the permission of the sender. MPS communication systems are
monitored to the extent permitted by law.  Consequently, any email and/or
attachments may be read by monitoring staff. Only specified personnel are
authorised to conclude any binding agreement on behalf of the MPS by
email. The MPS accepts no responsibility for unauthorised agreements
reached with other employees or agents.  The security of this email and
any attachments cannot be guaranteed. Email messages are routinely scanned
but malicious software infection and corruption of content can still occur
during transmission over the Internet. Any views or opinions expressed in
this communication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily
represent those of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

 

Find us at:

Facebook: [1]https://m.facebook.com/metpoliceuk 

Twitter: @metpoliceuk

References

Visible links
1. https://m.facebook.com/metpoliceuk