French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have mobilized a group of heads of state and government, international organizations and leaders of businesses and digital organizations to take action against terrorist and extremist content online and end the exploitation of the Internet by terrorist actors.
Through the Christchurch Call – named after the New Zealand city in which 51 people from the Muslim community were killed in terrorist attacks broadcast live on the Internet on 15 March 2019 –, 10 heads of state, government and international organizations, as well as major players in the digital sector, pledge to take collective action, in coordination with civil society, to eliminate this online content.
The Christchurch Call is an action plan that commits governments, international organizations and Internet players to take a series of measures, in particular: developing tools to prevent the downloading of terrorist and violent extremist content; combating the causes of violent extremism; improving transparency in the detection and removal of content; and ensuring that the algorithms designed and used by businesses do not direct users towards violent extremist content, so as to reduce their viral nature.
“We can be proud of what we have started with the adoption of the Christchurch Call. We’ve taken practical steps to try and stop what we experienced in Christchurch from happening again. The 15 March attack was shocking in its use of social media as a tool in the act of terror and with the Christchurch Call we have taken a unique approach to solving this problem,” said Jacinda Ardern.
For the first time, governments, international organizations, businesses and digital organizations agreed on a package of measures and long-term cooperation to make the Internet safer.
The work done today is only the first step towards a common goal of eliminating terrorist content online. But the measures taken to achieve this are not limited to what has been done today: an agreement was reached to continue cooperative work in order to improve collective security.
We must make efforts on behalf of the people affected by the Christchurch attack, and of other towns and cities in the world hit by terrorism and violent extremism.
The Call takes account of the fact that state regulation alone will not suffice to resolve the problem. It is necessary to call on the creativity and technical know-how of Internet businesses and organizations to come up with solutions, whilst ensuring respect for Internet freedom and preserving the Internet’s ability to act as a force for good.
President Emmanuel Macron said:
We must build a free, open and safe Internet, which makes it possible for everyone to share, learn and innovate, but also allows us to uphold our values, protect our fellow citizens and give them a sense of responsibility.
Prime Minister Ardern said:
From here, I will work alongside others signed up to the Christchurch Call to bring more partners on board, and develop a range of practical initiatives to ensure the pledge we have made today is delivered.
New Zealand and France will present the Christchurch Call to other countries and companies and take forward these objectives in other international fora. We shall have a further meeting this year, during the United Nations General Assembly’s high-level segment, where we hope significant progress will be made in this area.
The Call was adopted by France, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Jordan, Norway, the United Kingdom, Senegal, Indonesia, the European Commission and by Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Qwant, Twitter, YouTube and DailyMotion. Other countries, including Australia, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden have also lent their support to the Call.