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Christchurch Call Makes Significant Progress

Significant progress has been delivered in the year since the Christchurch Call to Action brought governments and tech companies together in Paris with a single goal to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardent says.

On its first anniversary, Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron as the founding leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to the Call and commended supporters’ efforts so far.

“Because of the Christchurch Call, we can coordinate internationally across governments and tech companies to stop terrorist and violent extremist attempts to weaponise the internet,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“If an attack like we saw on March 15 last year happened again, we have an international network of governments and tech companies ready to mobilise and work against the forces that boosted the viral spread of content from Christchurch and caused such widespread harm.

“In the wake of the March 15 terrorist attack New Zealanders wanted to take action to stop what happened in our country occurring anywhere else. I am proud of the advances we have made in the last year.

“I have no doubt the work we have undertaken to date has already made it harder for those pushing terrorist and violent extremist content through the internet and social media in the way we saw in Christchurch,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The Call is supported by 48 countries, the European Commission, two international organisations, and eight tech companies. New Zealand and France are looking to add to that list of companies in 2020.

The Christchurch Call Advisory Network of civil society members helps to ensure ongoing work strikes the right balance between protecting our populations from online harm, while still guarding freedom of expression, and our belief in a free, open, secure internet.

Also today, Ardern and Macron have released a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to the Call and to its multistakeholder collaboration.

Ongoing efforts will see New Zealand, alongside France, providing input to the Global Internet Forum for Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) as it reaches a crucial phase of restructure.

The two countries will also be part of the new multistakeholder GIFCT Independent Advisory Committee and the organisation’s working groups that will take forward priority Call work, including crisis response, transparency, algorithmic outcomes and research.

“We are dealing with a global problem, which requires a global response,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“We have achieved a lot but I am under no illusions we have much more to do.

“Malicious actors will always be searching for new ways to promote terrorism and violent extremism, and inflict harm, online.

“For as long they are, we will be working to counter them,” Jacinda Ardern said.

 

Christchurch Call: One year Anniversary

Joint statement: the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister of New Zealand and His Excellency Emmanuel Macron President of the French Republic.

One year since we launched, in Paris, the Christchurch Call to Action, New Zealand and France stand proud of the progress we have made toward our goal to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, and are committed to continuing progress.

For one year, and for the first time, governments, major tech companies and civil society representatives have been working cooperatively together to stop and prevent attacks like the one we saw in Christchurch being broadcast and spread online.

48 countries, the European Commission, two international organisations, and eight tech companies are now actively contributing to the implementation of the Call commitments, together with an Advisory Network of 44 international civil society representatives, which include non-governmental organisations, academia, think-tanks and others who focus on human rights (including freedom of expression and digital rights), counter-radicalization, victim support and public policy.

The multistakeholder collaboration of the Christchurch Call has enabled significant progress over the past year:

- When the Christchurch terror attack was livestreamed across social media just over one year ago, its reach was amplified by a network of malicious actors working together to deliberately and relentlessly modify the footage to avoid the existing safety checks of online platforms. Thanks to the Christchurch Call to Action, we now have the means to coordinate across governments and tech companies to respond to attempts to use the internet as a terrorist weapon;

- Tech companies have reformed the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) into an independent organisation with dedicated resources, a 24/7 crisis management function, and an enhanced governance structure. The reformed GIFCT now includes an Independent Advisory Committee to guide its work, scheduled for launch mid-2020, and composed of governments and civil society organisations.

- A crisis response protocol has been adopted and already been used: in October 2019 and February of this year, the GIFCT companies demonstrated a far quicker and more efficient response to real-world attacks that had the potential to develop into online crises.

While this is a promising start, we have more to do.

New Zealand and France will continue to engage regularly with partners and supporters to continue implementing the Christchurch Call commitments. This includes as members of the GIFCT Independent Advisory Committee, where we will seek to provide insight, alongside civil society, to the organisation’s Operating Board. We expect the new, multistakeholder working groups launched within the GIFCT, to provide crucial input into solutions that substantially shape the international response to eliminating terrorist and violent extremist content online for years to come.

New Zealand and France together, as co-founders of the Call, will also work to broaden commitment to the Call this year, focusing particularly on the tech industry, including small and medium-sized companies.

The work of the Christchurch Call will not cease. Malicious actors are still searching for new ways to promote terrorism and violent extremism, and inflict harm, online. We will work together to prevent and counter them.

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