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Funding to support Christchurch Call – Expert Reaction


The Government will spend $17m to help protect Kiwis from harmful digital content, in response to the March mosque attacks in Christchurch.

The Department of Internal Affairs will double its work investigating and preventing violent extremism online. Funding will also help bolster the Chief Censor's work to make fast decisions about harmful content.

The SMC gathered expert comment on the announcement.

Associate Professor David Parry, Head of Department of Computer Science, AUT, comments:

"A boost to the immediate response team is to be welcomed, along with reducing the time to make decisions. Clarity on the law is also valuable, in particular to ensure that naïve adolescents are not treated more harshly than active extremists simply because the former are easier to detect.

"A wider understanding of the technical issues is good - already there is evidence that online providers are reacting more quickly and more efficiently in terms of reducing access. For example, in the recent incident in Halle, Germany, Amazon shared data about the livestream very quickly to other providers - limiting, although not completely halting, the spread of the video.

"Regulation is going to be difficult, partly because it is effectively impossible to stop people accessing overseas sites and partly because the self-publishing model is key to the existence of many of these companies. It may be that the legal environment needs to change to reflect the reality of the internet-connected world, where anyone can in practice publish and read anything, rather than try to impose restrictions that worked when there were a limited number of media outlets. This may mean a greater emphasis on harm and intention rather than restriction."

No conflict of interest.


ends

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