Sunday 26 May 2019

Varadkar to join other leaders in seeking crackdown on online terror content

Plan: Taoiseach Varadkar
Plan: Taoiseach Varadkar

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar will today join other world leaders seeking to crackdown on terror content online by signing up to the 'Christchurch Call to Action'.

It comes after the horrific terrorist attack on mosques in New Zealand in March which was live-streamed on the internet and saw the deaths of 51 people.

The new initiative is being led by Jacinda Arden, the prime minister of New Zealand and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Call to Action in Paris will outline commitments from Governments and major social media companies to prevent the abuse of the internet and halt the dissemination of extremist content online.

It also commits them to developing processes to respond rapidly to the spreading of this material following a terrorist event.

Writing in the New York Times in recent days Ms Arden said the attack in Christchurch was "part of a horrifying new trend that seems to be spreading around the world: It was designed to be broadcast on the internet."

She said her government took immediate action to ban the kind of military-style semi-automatic guns that the terrorist used.

"That was the tangible weapon. But the terrorist’s other weapon was live-streaming the attack on social media to spread his hateful vision and inspire fear. "

She said: "We need to address this, too, to ensure that a terrorist attack like this never happens anywhere else."

In the immediate aftermath of the attack Mr Varadkar said social media companies must have "zero tolerance" towards any online posts that promote violence and hatred.

He stopped short of singling out the tech giants for criticism, saying that "terrorists and extremists have always used the media to propagate their views and promote their activities".

He said its the duty of government and the media to "get ahead of that" and the primary responsibility of the social media companies is to take down content that promotes violence and hate as quickly as possible.

Other leaders who will be in Paris today include British Prime Minister Theresa May, Candaian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Macky Sall of Senagal, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Following the adoption of the Christchurch Call to Action, leaders will attend the closing dinner of the Tech for Good Summit, at which more than 150 business leaders will be present.

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