The “Chatbot” IT tool must have certain characteristics in order to serve its communication purpose, which is namely to serve the society as a whole in the prevention, prediction and detection of potential violent radicalization. Its main features are as follows:
• Neutral IT Tool: The use of this tool contributes in reducing the “labelling” towards minority groups and marginalized communities, because the interaction with the “Chatbot” is free from prejudice;
• Respect of privacy: The development and use of the “Chatbot” fully abides with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)44 guidelines, within its ultimate aim to improve the commu- nication between LEAs and civil society by filling the gaps emerged in D5.3 and D6.1. To ensure its respect to privacy, the “Chatbot” grants anonymity for the user and fully respects it. In this context, it allows for the development of an open conversation environment, has the potential to generate trust, and it can be employed by various users from different countries and master- ing diverse languages;
• Not intended for intelligence gathering purposes: This is a very significant feature of the “Chatbot” which needs to be highlighted, particularly when most of LEAs work is widely per- ceived as a masked form of intelligence gathering. Accordingly, the “Chatbot” does not in any way serve as a tool for this purpose but focuses instead on improving and solidifying communi- cation between two entities, the LEAs and CSAs. Thus, it is important to outline that the IT Tool will not keep records, detect the source or the user’s location;
• Provide citizens with a margin of confidence, by enabling them to share information and more importantly gain knowledge on how to behave/act in this particular situation. By doing so, it grants them the possibility to perform a participant role within the prevention process instead of being passive citizens within a society. Furthermore, the possibility to connect with other individuals who are confronting as well such a situation or are experiencing the same complex- ities in their lives, can be extremely interesting in a trust-building environment, given the pos- sibility to direct and guide them to specialized help in line with the answers they have provided to the “Chatbot”, reducing also false reports;
• Originality of the Tool: The added value provided by this new tool in comparison to the existing ones is that it allows for a closer interaction: users can actually pose questions once they are directed to those who can provide answers, this is not possible by using an app, where users only read the indications and input data (e.g. place of the event, type of problem, etc.). This tool can fundamentally serve to empower Civil Society to cooperate in issues of social relevance (e.g. Security, civil protection, etc.) this community engagement/empowerment is, according to RAN45 one of the main pillars to fight violent radicalization;
• “Beneficiaries of the “Chatbot: By highlighting the role that the two main actors mentioned in Chapter 2 (civil society actors – including family and friends – and LEAs) will exercise through this communication model, and stressing the necessity of the involvement of all actors to tackle the radicalisation narrative, recruitment process, and the identification as well as the recognition of indicators, the following considerations are to be noted:
1. Civil society actors: In case of family and friends, users will have at their disposal a practical and anonymous tool to connect with and be provided with guided and expert help, if they so desire. At this level, the main advantages are the possibility to “be heard”, to get expert guidance if requested (without the “get them in trouble” issue) and to be more involved in the society they live in. Furthermore, recipients will have at their dis- posal the possibility to provide guidance and offer help to citizens who are facing doubts (e.g. misinterpretation of holy texts, lack of empathy for minorities, feeling depressed and neglected/isolated from society, etc.). NGOs, youth groups, religious organizations, sports clubs, etc. have the therefore opportunity to reach out to a broad public and also detect ongoing violent radicalisation processes (without the “perception of talking to police”);
2. LEAs: in parallel, LEAs can be considered main beneficiaries of the “Chatbot” as well. Through the employment of this tool, users will in fact be able to change their perception of law enforcement agencies, thus reducing the lack of trust46 between LEAs and civil society – which is a key pillar of the model of cooperation proposed in Chapter 5 – and the difficult access to the adequate/professional response.
• Flexibility of the “Chatbot”: It will be possible to adjust the IT tool according to the user’s specific needs, i.e. adjusting the parameters as per the context in which the “Chatbot” is used (such as for instance, schools, social services centres, prisons, etc.), given that the specificity of the posed questions are fundamental to the overall final assessment.