Christchurch Call: Government fighting online extremism

News 15/05/2019

A team of government officials are working to combat violence and extremism online in the same way agencies have tackled threats of cyber warfare and child sexual exploitation.

It could mean the surveillance of web communities, learning how they communicate and attempting to step in before they act.

The group they're fighting includes white supremacists, the extreme right and far right activists who use coded language to draw in and radicalise new followers.

The government considers the extremists self-organised, highly determined and a real threat.

The Christchurch Call pledge will focus on how to quash the movement's growing momentum, which governments and social media companies have struggled to identify and defeat.

It is understood the voluntary pledge will be in four parts:

  1. A preamble which will cover what happened in Christchurch, what work can be done to remedy that, the power of the internet, the challenges of extremist content and the use of the internet by extremist groups. It will cover rights to freedom of expression and how to balance that with the rights of victims.

  2. The commitments of governments to counter violence and extremism so looking at laws around the world to ensure they're being applied appropriately and in line with human rights laws and international law. It will also look at the responsibility of media covering events like the Christchurch terror attack to ensure coverage is not gratuitous or further harms those affected. There will be a focus on the actions states and industry must take to work collaboratively.

  3. Will focus on online service providers and how they deal with uploads like the lifestream of the  Christchurch attack. This part will discuss the need for transparency, terms of service, algorithms and how public reporting is responded to.

  4. How governments and industry must work together and collaborate with civil society on research, interventions and with law enforcement. There will be a nod to supporting smaller online platform to ensure barriers aren't set up that would stymie their development.

The Christchurch Call will be a detailed discussion of all of the above and is seen by world and tech leaders as the beginning of a collaborative action plan that's never been pursued at this level.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Tova O'Brien