Global Companies agree to counter terrorism

Global Companies agree to counter terrorism

Clarion call of New Zealand and France heard
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New Zealand Prime Jacinda Ardern with French President Emmanuel Macron (AFP Picture published by RNZ)

New York, September 24, 2019

World leaders and tech companies have announced significant progress on the implementation of the Christchurch Call to Action to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online at a meeting held at the United Nations in New York yesterday (September 23, 2019).

The Call was launched in response to the March 15, 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch where the murder of 51 people was broadcast live on the internet, and copied and reposted millions of times at an unprecedented scale, in a deliberate effort to spread fear and compound the suffering of the victims. 

Counter Terrorism Forum

Key outcomes announced at the meeting include the following: (a) An overhaul of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) to make it an independent body that will drive much of the tech sector’s work on implementing the Call (b) Launch of a new crisis response protocol, to be used by governments and tech companies in the wake of terrorist and violent extremist attacks to coordinate and to manage the online impacts of the attack (c) Establishment of a Christchurch Call Advisory Network to advise on the implementation of the Call (d) 31 new countries and two organisations joining the Call, bringing the total to 48 countries and three international organisations. 

Encouraging global response

“The global community has responded to the March 15 terrorist act that attempted to divide us with an unprecedented and powerful act of unity,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

She issued the following Statement dated September 23, 2019:

Today’s comprehensive set of actions are designed to ensure we have the organisation in place to stop the internet being used as a tool for terror. The new standalone Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism will have a dedicated structure and staff to more capably carry out the business of disrupting terrorist and violent extremist use of member platforms and to engage with smaller platforms to assist them do the same.

Its mission now encompasses violent extremist content online – not just terrorist content. And it will have working groups focussed on research, on algorithms, and on data privacy and information sharing.

I am confident that the reformed GIFCT will have greater capacity to tackle the challenge of terrorist and violent extremist content online and provide a space for collaboration to implement the Call and stop terrorist content online.

Independent Advisory Committee

New Zealand and France, as co-founders of the Christchurch Call, will also help guide the work of the GIFCT as members of its new Independent Advisory Committee.

We have also established a new shared crisis response protocol to respond quickly and effectively to prevent abhorrent content from spreading in the wake of a terrorist attack.

The shared protocol is operationally ready and could be used immediately in the event of a terrorist attack like Christchurch, where an online response is required.      

Google will host a testing exercise in New Zealand in December to help bring all stakeholders to a better state of readiness in the event of a future attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron said, “The new crisis response protocol, aligns with the work of the EU internet forum, and will allow for a more efficient exchange of information between States and companies, and will help everyone respond more effectively.”

“The Internet was established to enable its users to create, to communicate, and to create value. It should remain as a domain that is open, free and secure.  States and companies must act together, with a shared sense of responsibility and respect for rights and freedoms, to combat the use of the internet for terrorist and violent extremist ends.”

 

“The dialogue we led with tech companies and civil society was successful thanks to the efforts of everyone involved.  I am convinced that the reshaped GIFCT will allow us to more effectively counter in a transparent way, the propagation of terrorist and violent extremist content online.” 

Global Challenge

Ms Ardern said this is recognised as a global challenge – and one requiring a strong, collaborative response.

It is pleasing to see such a large number of new countries and organisations signing on to progress this work, she said.

“The Christchurch Call is not a traditional diplomatic initiative, instead we have created an innovative, flexible coalition, dedicated to solving shared problems, that unites countries and tech companies.  And I would like to acknowledge the work and leadership of the tech companies in getting us to this point,” she said.

“We acknowledge the wide range of work that has been place across multiple fora to tackle online harms and terrorist use of the internet, including the Aqaba Process established by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the EU Internet Forum, both of which have contributed significantly to today’s outcomes. 

“There is still more to be done, but today’s announcements underline what can be achieved with collaboration and a shared sense of ownership,” Ms Ardern said.

The Christchurch Call

Two months to the day after the Christchurch Terror Attack, on May 15, 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron brought together Heads of State and Government and leaders from the tech sector to adopt the Christchurch Call to Action.

Seventeen countries, eight companies and the European Commission came together in a powerful demonstration of solidarity and a global commitment to prevent the exploitation of social media as a tool of terror. 

Now, over six months on from the Christchurch attacks, support for the Call has grown by 31 more countries and two more international organisations. 

The Christchurch Call emphasises the importance of fighting against terrorist and violent extremist content online in a way consistent with principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights.

The GIFCT

In 2017, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) was set up by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube as an industry-led initiative to apply technology, share knowledge and support research on terrorists’ use of platforms.

The GIFCT companies agreed to work together to ensure cross-industry efforts are coordinated and robust, including by investing in and expanding the GIFCT.   

Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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