Friday 18 October 2019

Ireland signs up to bid to crack down on terror content online


Jacinda Ardern and Emmanuel Macron in Paris yesterday. Picture: Reuters
Jacinda Ardern and Emmanuel Macron in Paris yesterday. Picture: Reuters
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that an international crackdown on terror content online shows countries are co-operating "to ensure the internet is not weaponised by the forces of hatred and extremism".

Mr Varadkar made the remarks to other world leaders in Paris as Ireland signed up to the 'Christchurch Call to Action'.

The initiative, led by Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, and French President Emmanuel Macron, comes after the horrific terrorist attack on mosques in New Zealand in March. The attack was live-streamed by the suspected perpetrator on Facebook and led to the deaths of 51 people.

Mr Varadkar blamed a delayed commercial flight for missing the main meeting with fellow leaders including British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

However, Mr Varadkar said that Irish officials attended and he delivered his remarks on the call to action at a later dinner with his fellow leaders. He spoke of Ireland's shock at the recent terror attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, as well as the attack on Paris in 2015. Mr Varadkar noted that Ireland is the European base for leading social media companies and that the Government is determined to ensure the online environment is as free as possible of illegal content.

However, speaking to reporters Mr Varadkar could not give a definite timeline for legislation to create the new office of online safety commissioner. It is to have powers to order internet companies to remove content and fine those which don't comply.

Meanwhile, five leading tech companies - Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter - have agreed to bring in new measures to help eliminate violent and terrorist content in the wake of the call to action.

Irish Independent

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