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NZ drives global initiative to quell acts of terror

Christchurch Call is making progress, displaying a commitment by tech companies and governments to address acts of terror, according to a statement by InternetNZ.

According to the company, progress on the Christchurch Call was made after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led a side meeting at the United Nations General Assembly today.

The company says the Call is gaining even more momentum with 31 new countries and two organisations signing up. This brings the total to 48 countries and three international organisations.

InternetNZ chief executive Jordan Carter says “It’s great to see continued commitment by key tech companies and governments to address terrorism and violent extremism online.

"The internet provides us all amazing opportunities to learn, collaborate and expand our potential. However, there is no debate that there is terrorist and violent extremist content that needs to be addressed. We need to figure out ways we can minimise harm online and the Christchurch Call is a good initiative to start the process of change."

“The key challenge will be taking action to tackle terrorism and violent extremism online while ensuring the internet remains open, secure and respects human rights,” says Carter.

InternetNZ chief advisor international, Dr Ellen Strickland, took part in the Christchurch Call side event today. Strickland says, “It’s really pleasing to see some concrete steps to make change. There were three big initiatives confirmed in today's meeting.”

These three big initiatives are:

  • There will be changes to the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) that will drive the tech sector’s work on implementing the Call.
  • There will be a new crisis response protocol to be used in the wake of terrorist and violent extremist attacks. Governments and tech companies will follow this protocol to coordinate and to manage online impacts of the attack. This will be tested in a NZ based exercise led by Google later this year.
  • A Christchurch Call Advisory Network will be finalised to advise on the implementation of the Call.

Strickland says, “It’s great to see the new GIFCT will have working groups focused on research, algorithms, and on data privacy and information sharing. These are critical aspects that we all need to understand better to help deal with the challenges social media are giving rise to.

"The structural changes to GIFCT, backed up with actual resource, will help us all combat terrorism and violent extremism online. To allow an even stronger contribution possible to the GIFCT’s work, all stakeholders - including civil society and academic voices - need to be part of its governance. There is more work to do here.”

According to InternetNZ, the company is striving to ensure that all the right people are involved in the Christchurch Call discussions, including experts from the technical community, civil society and academia. They each have specific knowledge that must be taken into account alongside countries and big tech companies like Google and Facebook, InternetNZ says.

Strickland says, “New Zealand has done quite a good job at including civil society voices in some of the work related to the Call. We will keep urging the Government and other Call players to make sure that happens in every part of the work, and on an ongoing and meaningful basis."

“InternetNZ stands for helping New Zealanders to harness the power of the internet for good. The Christchurch call is a chance for New Zealand to make a meaningful contribution to making everyone’s lives online better,” says Carter.

According to the company, InternetNZ is involved in the Christchurch Call because of its role in the internet community, experience in global internet policy debates, and its long record of providing advice and views to New Zealand governments on internet policy issues.