- Christchurch Call comes in the wake of the attacks at two mosques on March 15 in Christchurch which killed 51.
- The document called “Christchurch Call To Action” was signed and adopted with participation from 26 nations and 9 tech companies to improve their efforts to tackle extremist content.
- India has signed the Christchurch Call to Action on May 15, 2019, under which provision for removal of extremist and violent materials has been made on social media.
- US says it will not join Christchurch Call against online terror.
What is Christchurch call?
- The Christchurch Call summit was initiated by Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings to “bring together countries and tech companies in an attempt to bring to an end the ability to use social media to organise and promote terrorism and violent extremism.”Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President Emmanuel Macron of France co-chaired the Christchurch Call to Action Summit in Paris on 15 May 2019 where world leaders and tech companies signed a pledge to “eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online”.
- The initiative ‘Christchurch call to action’ was named after the New Zealand city where massacre happened in mosque.
Significant steps have already been taken to address this issue by, among others: the European Commission with initiatives such as the EU Internet Forum; the G20, and the G7, including work underway during France’s G7 Presidency on combating the use of the internet for terrorist and violent extremist purposes; along with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT); the Global Counter terrorism Forum; Tech Against Terrorism; and the Aqaba Process established by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
About the “Christchurch Call To Action”
The document called “Christchurch Call To Action” was signed and adopted with participation from 26 nations, including France, New Zealand, European Commission, Ireland, Norway, Senegal, Canada, Jordan, UK, Indonesia, Australia, Germany, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden and India. Among the social media companies and IT enterprises which also signed the document were: Microsoft, Qwant, Daily Motion, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.
The document highlights, “All action on this issue must be consistent with principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression. It must also recognize the internet’s ability to act as a force for good, including by promoting innovation and economic development and fostering inclusive societies.”
The document states that the governments/signatories should commit to:
- Counter the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism .
- Ensure effective enforcement of applicable laws .
- Encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards.
- Consider appropriate action .
The documents draw in the online service providers to commit to:
- Take transparent, specific measures .
- Provide greater transparency in the setting of community standards or terms of service.
- Enforce those community standards or terms of service
- Implement immediate, effective measures to mitigate the specific risk that terrorist and violent extremist content is disseminated through livestreaming,
- Implement regular and transparent public reporting.
- Review the operation of algorithms and other processes that may drive users towards and/or amplify terrorist and violent extremist content.
- Work together to ensure cross-industry efforts are coordinated and robust.
The document states that Governments and online service providers, commit to work collectively to:
- Work with civil society to promote community-led efforts.
- Develop effective interventions.
- Accelerate research into and development of technical solutions.
- Support research and academic efforts to better understand, prevent and counter terrorist and violent extremist content online.
- Ensure appropriate cooperation with and among law enforcement.
- Support smaller platforms as they build capacity to remove terrorist and violent extremist content.
- Collaborate, and support partner countries, in the development and implementation of best practice.
- Develop processes allowing governments and online service providersto respond rapidly, effectively .
- Respect, and for Governments protect, human rights.
- Recognise the important role of civil society
- Affirm their willingness to continue to work together.
- Develop and support a range of practical, non-duplicative initiatives to ensure that this pledge is delivered.
- Acknowledge that governments, online service providers, and civil society may wish to take further cooperative action.
Why did the US refuse to sign?
- The US refused to sign the document saying it was “not in a position to join” because it needs to assure freedom of speech, adding that it supports the general idea of the agreement. However, the Christchurch Call for Action has already stated that it will not infringe on the freedom of expression.
In its statement the White House said:
- “We supported the Christchurch Call’s “overall goals” but was “not currently in a position to join the endorsement”.
- “We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” it said.
- “We encourage technology companies to enforce their terms of service and community standards that forbid the use of their platforms for terrorist purposes.”
- “We maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech and thus we emphasise the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging,” it added.
- The events of Christchurch highlighted once again the urgent need for action and enhanced cooperation among the wide range of actors with influence over this issue, including governments, civil society, and online service providers, such as social media companies, to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.
- Though the movement may have objections to the freedom of speech on this issue, but governments of all countries need to take concrete steps to curb such materials to prevent its increasing adverse effects.
- Inspired by such materials, during the prayer of Easter Sunday in the Church of Sri Lanka and in 2016, terrorist attacks on Holi Artisan Bakery were carried out in Dhaka.